Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

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

About Northern Pintails

Found widespread in North America, Asia, and Europe is the elegant Northern Pintail (Anas Acuta).

Description and Identification

Northern Pintails are long-necked ducks that are between 20 – 29 inches long. Their long and narrow wings have a wingspan of 34 inches. All have long, pointed tails, but breeding males are noticeably longer tailed than non-breeding males and females. Breeding males have a gleaming white breast and a white line down their chocolate-brown head and neck. On the other hand, females and nonbreeding males are mottled in browns and whites with a pale tan face and a dark bill. The inner wing feathers of males are green while those of females are a shade of bronze.

Northern Pintail Color Pattern

Due to its gleaming white breast and distinct white line from its head down to its neck, the male Northern Pintail stands out. It has a chocolaty head, and a white neck, belly, and chest. The plumage on its sides is grayish with a green patch and white-tan border on its wings. The female’s head and neck are a molten tan with brown patterned feathers all over her body. She has a brown patch with a white line on the edge of her wings.

Northern Pintail Size

These elegant long-necked birds are medium-sized and quite slender in frame. The relative size for both sexes is:

  • Length: 20.1-29.9 in (51-76 cm)
  • Weight: 17.6-51.1 oz (500-1450 g)
  • Wingspan: 34.0 in (86.4 cm)

Northern Pintail Behavior

  • The female Northern Pintail duck protects her brood by pretending to be injured while flying towards the predator in order to draw the predator away from her young ones.
  • During the non-breeding season, they become social birds and form close associations with other ducks.

Northern Pintail Food

Northern Pintails are omnivores that mainly consume plant material and invertebrates. Their
plant-based diet primarily involves the seeds and rhizomes of aquatic plants, but can also
include roots, grains, and seeds of plants on land. They consume grains such as rice, wheat,
corn, and barley that they forage with their bills. Most of their animal-based food is
consumed during the nesting season, with their diet mainly including invertebrate animals
like aquatic insects, mollusks, crustaceans, worms, and snails.

Northern Pintails are dabbling birds that forage for their food in the water. These night feeders’ diet mostly comprises seeds from aquatic plants like smartweeds and pondweeds. They also eat small aquatic animals and feed on scarce seeds found in fields.

Northern Pintail Habitat

These birds can be found breeding in seasonal wetlands, open areas with short vegetation,
wet meadows, grasslands, and crop fields. Following the migrations, they use flooded and
dry agricultural fields, lakes, reservoirs, estuaries, salt marshes, freshwater, and brackish
wetlands, coastal lagoons, and bays during the nonbreeding seasons. Their range of habitat
during the winters is considerably larger than their preferred habitat during the summers. In
these varying habitats, they can often be spotted in large mixed flocks of different duck
species during the winters.

During the breeding season, they lay their nests in shallow seasonal wetlands and open countries with low vegetation. In the winter period, they create their habitats in freshwater bodies including ponds, canals, marshes, rivers, and lakes.

Range and Migration

Northern Pintails are elegant, migratory ducks that have a wide range in the Old and the
New World. They are found breeding across the Palearctic realms of Eurasia and North
America, with their American populations breeding in Alaska, a majority of Canada till
Quebec, and portions of northern United States. They are long-distance migrants, being
some of the first ducks to begin their winter migration southwards. They winter in the
southern half of the United States, Mexico, and Central America. A few populations in the north-
the western United States are year-long residents and do not migrate.

Northern Pintail Life Cycle

The male Northern Pintail will attempt to court the female duck by swimming up to her with his tail up in the air and his bill facing down. He will then call to her by whistling. After mating, the female duck lays 7 to 10 pale olive eggs that are incubated for 21 to 25 days. The female raises the ducklings but sometimes the male stays with her and helps out.

Northern Pintail Nesting

Nest sites are scouted by both members of the pair but are most likely selected by the
females. The sites are typically placed in areas with short vegetation; these areas are most
commonly situated in croplands, grasslands, wet meadows, seasonal wetlands, and
shortgrass prairies. Unlike most duck species, Northern Pintails are one of the few species
that can be found nesting in tilled croplands. The nests are constructed by the female who
begins by making a depression in the ground of the selected site. Gradually, grasses and
down feathers are added to the depression as she begins laying eggs, with more lining
added with each egg. This creates a shallow bowl roughly 7 – 10 inches across and 2 – 4
inches deep, ideal for the clutch size of 3 – 12 eggs and the incubating parent.


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 Northern Pintails

The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Northern Pintails 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.

Northern Pintail T-shirts

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

Northern Pintail 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 Northern Pintail 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.

Northern Pintail Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Northern Pintail. 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 Northern Pintails

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 Northern Pintails

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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