Long-tailed Duck

Basic Description

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
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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.

Other Names
  • Pato Havelda (Spanish)
  • Harelde kakawi (French)
  • Cool Facts