- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
The attractive Long-tailed Duck breeds in the high Arctic and spends winters mostly along ocean coasts. The stunning males have two mirror-image plumages: in summer mostly black with a white face patch; in winter mostly white with rich brown, black, and gray on the face. In all plumages they have extravagantly long, slender tail feathers. Females and immatures are smudgy brown and white, without the long tail. These prodigious divers can feed as deep as 200 feet, swimming with their wings, catching invertebrates and small fish.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for Long-tailed Ducks in the winter, when the species filters down into the Great Lakes and protected bays along both coasts. They can form large flocks, but often remain out of sight of land. Weather and sea-ice coverage can push them close to shore where their yodeling calls bring attention to them. Scan the water carefully, and bring or borrow a spotting scope to be sure of getting the best possible views.
- Pato Havelda (Spanish)
- Harelde kakawi (French)
- Cool Facts
- Long-tailed Ducks are amazing divers—able to swim down as deep as 200 feet to forage.
- Of all the diving ducks, Long-tailed Ducks log the most time underwater. During foraging excursions, they spend 3 or 4 times as long underwater as on the surface.
- The Long-tailed Duck has an unusual pattern and timing to molting its feathers. Technically, the feathers it wears in winter are its "breeding" plumage. In the spring it molts into what is technically the "nonbreeding" plumage, and it wears this all summer. Most ducks molt into nonbreeding plumage for only a brief period in late summer.
- The oldest recorded Long-tailed Duck was a female, and at least 17 years old when she was found in Alaska.