Long Tailed Duck
The Long Tailed Duck or oldsquaw is a medium-sized sea duck. It is the only living member of its genus,Clangula; this was formerly used for the goldeneyes, with the long-tailed duck being placed in Harelda. Their breeding habitat is in tundra pools and marshes, but also along sea coasts and in large mountain lakes in the North Atlantic region, Alaska, northern Canada, northern Europe and Russia. The nest is located on the ground near water; it is built using vegetation and lined with down. They are migratory and winter along the eastern and western coasts of North America, on the Great Lakes, coastal northern Europe and Asia, with stragglers to the Black Sea. The most important wintering area is the Baltic Sea, where a total of about 4.5 million gather.
Male – The male Long tailed Duck has a mainly black and white plumage although this duck has a uniquely complex moulting process with three distinct plumage phases and the black and white plumage is seen over the winter and a chocolate brown and white plumage is seen in Spring and Summer, it has a distinctive long pointed tail, small dark-grey beak which has a pink band, and legs and feet are bluish-grey with darker webs.
Female – The female Long tailed Duck has a brown back, white head with dark crown and cheek patches, and a short pointed tail.
Size: – Typical Adult is about 17 inches.
Food: – Crustaceans, crabs, shrimps, molluscs, whelks, small fish and aquatic insects. Also pond weeds, and grass seeds. It dives well staying submerged for up to a minute.
Habitat: – Tundra pools, marshes, and coastal waters throughout the Northern Hemisphere’s tundra and tundra-forest zones. Breeds further north than any other duck. Winters further south in west coast of North America, Great Lakes, coastal areas of north Europe and north Asia, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and northern Japan.
Breeding Season: – Mid-May further south, June in Iceland, and July in Arctic.
Eggs: – 5 to 9 (greyish-olive color).
Notes: – The Long tailed Duck is a medium-sized sea duck. It bears no relation to any other duck. Also known as ‘Oldsquaw’ in USA.
The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.