Tuesday, December 22, 2009

At the pond... Northern Pintail

Northern PintailNorthern Pintail, Forest Grove, Oregon on 17 January 2004 by Greg Gillson.

 

The Northern Pintail is one of the most abundant migrant ducks in the Pacific Northwest. It is also abundant in winter west of the Cascades. It breeds primarily east of the Cascades. Continentally, they nest across Canada and Alaska and in the Great Basin and Great Plains. They winter coastally and in the southern US and well into Mexico.

The male's long black tail and white stripe up the back of the neck make this bird quite striking. Even without this combination of marks the sharply patterned males and the drab females are graceful, long-necked, ducks. They are distinctively differently shaped from all other North American ducks. In flight they are long-necked with sickle-shaped wings, easily identified even at a great distance.

One of the most frequent calls of the drakes is a wheezy double whistle. The hen gives a flat quack, lower and quieter than a Mallard hen.

Pintails are primarily vegetarian, and are most often found in shallow ponds and flooded pastures rather than deep lakes.

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