Northern Pintail Duck
The Northern Pintail Duck is a large duck, and the male’s long central tail feathers give rise to the species’ English and scientific names. Both sexes have blue-grey bills and grey legs and feet.
Male – The male Northern Pintail Duck has a chocolate-brown head, throat and hind-neck, white on the breast which extends up along side of neck, white belly, greyish flanks and upper-sides with elongated grey feathers with black central stripes on back, a long pointed black tail, silver-blue beak with black stripe, and blue-grey legs.
Female – The female Northern Pintail Duck is a mottled brown with a grey-brown head, shorter tail but the same distinctive long beak which is duller in color.
Eclipse – The male in eclipse plumage is similar to the female but has elongated grey tertial feathers, retains its wing pattern, and the beak remains a bright silver-blue with black stripe down the middle.
Size: – Typical Adult is 23-30 inches.
Food: – Aquatic plants, seeds, sedges, pond weeds, molluscs, crustaceans, and some aquatic insects.
Habitat: – Open wetlands, wet grasslands, lake sides, or tundra. They are widespread in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Breeding Season: – April to June.
Eggs: – 7 to 9 (creamy-white color).
Notes: – The Northern Pintail Duck is one of the most common ducks in the northern hemisphere. This large dabbling duck has a long neck which allows them to reach further into deep water for their food when up-ending. It usually feeds in the evening or night and spends much of the day resting.
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.