Long-tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck Picture

Long-tailed Duck

A Long-tailed Duck is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Long-tailed Ducks. We have also put together a list of fun Long-tailed Duck t-shirts, Long-tailed Duck bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.

About Long-tailed Ducks

Previously named the Oldsquaw for its talkative nature is the Long-tailed Duck (Clangula Hymealis) is the most abundant bird found in the high Arctic area. This medium-sized sea duck is the only remaining member of the Clangula genus.

NB: The long-tailed duck is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWE) applies.

Description and Identification

These sea ducks are small at an approximate length of 15 – 18.5 inches, roughly making them crow-sized. They are slender and have rounded heads and small, dark bills. This species exhibits sexual dimorphism in both size and color, with males being larger than females. Non-breeding males are mostly white and black; their heads are white and are contrasted by a large dark patch on their neck, while their breast and body are dark with white plumes covering their back. Breeding males are scarcely spotted away from the Arctic and have been observed to be the reverse of their winter plumage, with dark heads, necks, and bodies that are contrasted by a white face patch. Females and juveniles are brown on the body with a white face and a brown crown and cheek patch.

Long-tailed Duck Color Pattern

The male Long-tailed Duck is black and white with a black central tail feather that sprouts during the breeding season while the female only has a mottled brownish-grey plumage.  The bird itself has a rounded neck, short stubby bill, and pointed wings.

Long-tailed Duck Size

The Long-tailed Duck is a medium sized stocky bird whose relative size for both sexes is:

  • Length: 15.0-22.8 in (38-58 cm)
  • Weight: 17.6-38.8 oz (500-1100 g)
  • Wingspan: 28.4 in (72 cm)

Long-tailed Duck Behavior

  • When underwater, the Long-tailed Duck uses its wings to propel itself. It can dive into depths of 200 feet.
  • Amongst the tundra nesting birds, the male Long-tailed Duck produces the most distinctive vocalization. This has earned it numerous nicknames including “My Aunt Huldy,”, “John Connally,” and, from the Cree language, “Ha-hah-way.”

Long-tailed Duck Food

These ducks mainly eat invertebrates that they catch from the bottom of water columns in water bodies. On their breeding grounds, they eat aquatic insects, tiny crustaceans like fairy shrimp, fish eggs, and some plant matter. During the winter, their diet generally shifts to incorporate marine life as well. They mainly consume marine crustaceans, mussels, small fish, and zooplankton that they access by diving down to impressive depths. They are known
to be able to dive as deep down as 200 feet in order to find prey.

This diving long-tailed diving bird forages on the water surface for crustaceans and mollusks. During the breeding season, their diet may vary allowing them to eat plants, insects, fish, and insect larvae.

Long-tailed Duck Habitat

Long-tailed Ducks are found breeding on the arctic tundra, usually near freshwater wetlands like tundra pools and lakes. As long as open water is nearby, they can be found breeding in both low-lying tundra and hilly areas, barren ground, and the edges of northern forests. They can also often be found at distances far from the shore – especially at night – before
congregating in areas with extensive sea ice, usually using floe edges and large openings in the ice. During the winter, they spend their time along ocean coasts and over large freshwater lakes.

The Long-tailed Duck often breeds on wetlands, streams, ponds, and in the tundra regions and moves to inland lakes and ocean shores during winter.

Range and Migration

Long-tailed Ducks are graceful birds found breeding throughout the tundra of the High Arctic.
These short- to medium-distance migrants breed in the Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada,
and most of coastal Greenland. Winters take them towards the eastern and western coasts
of North America, primarily on the Great Lakes. Their migrations occur in flocks of hundreds
where they usually travel overland while flying at extremely high altitudes.

Long-tailed Duck Life Cycle

During migration, the Long-tailed ducks form mating their pairs. The female lays about 6 to 11 olive-gray to olive-buff eggs in her nest close to the ground hidden by surrounding vegetation. She then incubates her eggs for a period of 25 to 30 days. The precocial chicks begin to feed themselves with items dislodged to the surface shortly after hatching and take flight after a month or so.

Long-tailed Duck Nesting

Long-tailed Ducks are found nesting in small, tight clusters on islands or peninsulas in Arctic
lakes. Nest sites are selected on dry ground close to the water and may be partly hidden under
low growth or among rocks. Females make the nests and begin by making a shallow
depression lined with dwarf willow or birch leaves. As the females lay eggs, more plant
material is added. The first egg is buried under a layer of grasses and sedges; down
feathers are added once the second egg is laid. These ducks have a single brood each
breeding season, with each clutch size ranging from 6 – 9 eggs. As each egg is laid, more
lining is added to sufficiently insulate the nest. The construction only ceases after all eggs
have been laid.


Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes

At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.

Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Long-tailed Ducks

The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Long-tailed Ducks are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

Long-tailed Duck T-shirts

If you love the Long-tailed Duck you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.

Long-tailed Duck Iron On Patches

Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.

The Long-tailed Duck is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.

Long-tailed Duck Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Long-tailed Duck. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.

Bird Feeders for Long-tailed Ducks

There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.

Best Bird Houses for Long-tailed Ducks

There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.

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