NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Northern pintail is a rather large dabbling duck at around 70 cm (30 in.) long, including the tail, which is long and narrow for the male. The male has a dark brown head with a white breast and mostly grey plumage elsewhere. The white extends from the breast as a stripe up the neck, and the bill is black and light blue. The female is mostly brown with white stripes. Both sexes have a long neck, which helps in identification of the female especially. The feet and legs are blue-grey in both sexes.
NAME: The English name ‘Pintail’ refers to the long, narrow and pointed tail in the male. The Latin genus name ‘Anas’ means ‘duck’, and the Latin species name ‘acuta’ means ‘sharp’, again in reference to the male’s tail.
HABITAT: Open wetlands.
DIET: The northern pintail feeds on shallow water bottom vegetation, and also on insects and crustaceans by upending, i.e. upside down.
NESTING: Northern pintails nest in open country, which makes the eggs and young vulnerable to predators.
DISTRIBUTION: This bird is widespread in the whole northern hemisphere, and it migrates to Mexico, southern Europe, Asia and northern Africa for the winter. During migration this duck species forms large flocks.
ON PEI: Common on Prince Edward Island, where it breeds and also winters.
IN HAWAII: Northern pintails are winter visitors and can be observed on various wetlands, notably at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on Oahu. Those birds likely come from Siberia and/or Alaska.
CONSERVATION: The northern pintail is susceptible to various diseases or parasites and is also a favorite game bird because of its good flavor. In spite of a significant population decline in North America in the last few decades, it is still listed as a species of ‘least concern’, numbering in the few million. It is a popular game duck but its hunting is regulated. As for many other waterfowl, habitat loss to wetland drainage for agriculture or development is a potential threat.
REFERENCES: (New Hampshire PBS)

Northern pintail on the Onda river, Naruse, Machida, Tokyo, Japan. Note the finely striated plumage on the back. - © Denise Motard
Northern pintail male, Tokyo, Japan
Northern pintail pair. Onda river, Naruse, Machida, Tokyo. © Denise Motard
Northern pintail pair, Tokyo, Japan
Northern Pintails – James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge, Oahu, HI – © Denise Motard
Northern pintails, James Campbell NWR
Northern Pintails – James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge, Oahu, HI – © Denise Motard
Northern pintails self-preening, Oahu