Long-tailed Duck Life History


Habitat Lakes and PondsBreeds in ponds, streams, and other arctic wetlands. Winters on open ocean or on large freshwater lakes.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesMostly aquatic invertebrates, including insects and crustaceans. Also some bivalves, fish, fish eggs, and plant matter.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

Shallow scrape in the ground, lined with willow and birch leaves and then with down. Placed at the water's edge, often on islands or peninsulas, close to other Long-tailed Duck nests.

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:6-9 eggs
Number of Broods:1 brood
Egg Length:1.9-2.4 in (4.8-6 cm)
Egg Width:1.4-1.6 in (3.6-4 cm)
Incubation Period:24-29 days
Nestling Period:1-2 days
Egg Description:Pale gray to olive.
Condition at Hatching:Downy and eyes open. Leave nest soon after they dry. Feed themselves immediately.
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Behavior Surface DiveDives for prey on or near bottom.Back to top


Conservation Common Bird in Steep DeclineThere is little information on Long-tailed Duck population trends; numbers are difficult to census because of the species' offshore wintering areas. Long-tailed Duck rates a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and is on the 2014 State of the Birds Report as a Common Bird in Steep Decline. These ducks are not widely hunted. Entanglement in fishing nets killed tens of thousands of Long-tailed Ducks in the 1950s, especially in the Great Lakes; recent statistics and trends on by-catch of Long-tailed Duck have not been compiled.Back to top


Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. (2019). Longevity records of North American birds. Version 1019 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2019.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2014). The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Robertson, Gregory J. and Jean-Pierre L. Savard. (2002). Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

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