Birda Logo
loading...
A photo of a Northern Pintail (Anas acuta), male
Northern Pintail, Male

Northern Pintail

Anas acuta

The Northern Pintail, Anas acuta, is a graceful duck with a cosmopolitan range, breeding across the northern reaches of Europe, Asia, and North America. This species is easily recognized by its elegant profile, marked by a long neck and a distinctive pointed tail from which it derives its common name. The male, or drake, is particularly striking during the breeding season with a chocolate-brown head and a white breast adorned by a white line extending up the neck. Females, or hens, exhibit a more subdued palette of brown feathers, blending seamlessly with the wetland habitats they frequent.

Identification Tips

The drake Northern Pintail is distinguished by its long central tail feathers, blue-grey bill, and grey legs and feet. In contrast, the hen's plumage is a muted brown, with a shorter pointed tail and a long grey bill. Both sexes share a sleek, elongated body and a swift, agile flight pattern, with the male showcasing a black-bordered white speculum and the female a dark brown speculum edged prominently in white.

Habitat

The Northern Pintail is a bird of open wetlands, including grasslands, lakesides, and tundra. It is adaptable in winter, utilizing estuaries, marshes, and coastal lagoons. The species' preference for shallow waters makes it a common sight in these environments.

Distribution

This migratory species breeds in the northern Palearctic and North America, wintering as far south as the equator. Its range extends to include passage and non-breeding areas, with vagrant sightings reported in various locations.

Behaviour

Outside of the breeding season, Northern Pintails are highly sociable, often forming large mixed flocks with other duck species. They exhibit a forward-leaning swimming posture and are known for their fast, slightly swept-back winged flight.

Song & Calls

The male Northern Pintail emits a soft, flute-like whistle, while the female produces a coarse quack and a low croak when flushed, reminiscent of the mallard.

Breeding

Northern Pintails are among the earliest ducks to breed in the spring. They form pairs during migration and nest on the ground, well-hidden among vegetation. The female lays a clutch of cream-colored eggs, which she incubates alone. Ducklings are precocial and follow the hen to water shortly after hatching.

Diet and Feeding

The Northern Pintail is an opportunistic feeder, dabbling for plant food and invertebrates. It has a preference for seeds and aquatic plants but will also consume grain and other seeds in fields during the winter.

Conservation Status

Despite its wide range and large population, the Northern Pintail is not considered globally threatened. However, it faces challenges from habitat loss, hunting, and avian diseases. Conservation efforts are in place in some regions to address population declines and protect this elegant species.

Northern Pintail Sounds



Recorded by: © 
App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Northern Pintail Fun Facts

Did you know?
Northern Pintail's scientific name means Sharp Duck.

Northern Pintails on Birda

Sightings

More Ducks, Geese, Swans

A photo of a Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) , male

Mandarin Duck

Aix galericulata
Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Dan R
Great app for bird fanatics
Great app for bird fanatics - very user friendly and a perfect place to share sightings.
Louise L
Easy to use and accurate
Love this app. It is easy to use and accurate, Their backup communication is really good. I noted a missing species. All through the process, I was kept informed about the progress in correcting the information. I now have the corrected, updated version. 😁 Thanks!
Dunners12345
Great App
Great app to use for logging and communicating with others who are interested in birds
Ellesse_W
Learning Birding with Birda
I’m relatively new to birding as a hobby, and Birda is a great way to keep track off all the species I see. I’m still working on my ID skills, but the app is great for figuring out potential species, and the online community is so friendly and helpful. Definitely recommend Birda to both early and serious birders! 🐦
Bryan C
Clean and easy to use
Really enjoying this app, it's clean and easy to use. I love the ease of being able to add those one-off birds without starting a whole checklist. I also like the social aspect, like the parts of my Facebook I like, without the ads and junk, just birds. Can't wait to see it become more populated.
Jane N
A great app
Enjoying it immensely and finding it useful too. Recording the different birds and counting them is showing me how the present climate is affecting them all. I've trebled the numbers by planting native hedging. A great app.
D3Nature
Great app for learning Birds
I’ve been using the app for a couple of months and love it....Someone said it’s like a real life Pokémon Go for birds. They’re not far off! It’s something that the family can do that gets you out and about. Well worth downloading no matter your age.
Pdydhdrexgi
Fantastic App
This is a really lovely app, for everyone interested in birds - from newbies to old hands. There is a very friendly feel to the community and you will genuinely learn a lot as you record your sightings and photos. There are lots of badges and competitions to keep you engaged, and a host of really useful features.
Foxgirl100
Great app for beginner twitchers
I’ve had a passion of photographing birds for a long time now but have only just gotten into proper birdwatching, and this app is brilliant for those just getting started. There is a great sense of community among users and the app is very easy to use and professional. Awesome app altogether
Marlster24
Very Wholesome App
Joined this app with a new interest in watching birds to help me find out what I was spotting. The community is very active in helping identify birds which is great and everyone is very kind so it’s just a nice wholesome community. I would definitely recommend this for any bird spotter 😄
As featured in
Connect with nature,
Find your flock
Download Birda - QR Code
© 2024 All rights reserved