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Northern Pintail


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Slim and long-necked, the Northern Pintail has a distinctive silhouette. The male is easy to identify by his striking markings and long tail, but even the female can be recognized by her graceful, long-necked shape.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
20.1–29.9 in
51–76 cm
17.6–51.1 oz
500–1450 g
Other Names
  • Canard pilet (French)
  • Pato golondrino (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Like the Mallard, the Northern Pintail breeds in a variety of habitats all across northern North America and Eurasia. Also like the Mallard, island populations have splintered off and evolved into separate species. Two closely related forms can be found on Crozet and Kerguelen islands in the very southern Indian Ocean, known as Eaton's Pintail (Anas eatoni
  • The Northern Pintail is among the earliest nesting ducks in North America, beginning shortly after ice-out in many northern areas.
  • The oldest recorded Northern Pintail was a male and at least 22 years, 3 months old when he was found in Saskatchewan, Canada.



Nests in open country with shallow, seasonal wetlands and low vegetation. Winters in wide variety of shallow inland freshwater and intertidal habitats.



Grain, seeds, weeds, aquatic insects, crustaceans, and snails.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–12 eggs
Egg Description
Greenish buff.
Condition at Hatching
Covered in down and able to leave the nest soon after hatching.
Nest Description

Scrape in ground in brush or grass, lined with grass and down; usually not near water.

Nest Placement




Picks food from surface of ground. Dabbles, filter-feeds at surface of water, tips-up in shallow water.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Northen Pintail populations declined throughout most of their range at a rate of 2.6% per year between 1966 and 2012, resulting in a cumulative decline of 72%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. The 2014 State of the Birds listed them as a Common Bird in Steep Decline.


Range Map Help

Northern Pintail Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

You Might Also Like

Simple Steps for Identifying Confusing Brown Ducks—Females and Otherwise, All About Birds blog, November 21, 2014.

What to Watch For: Duck Courtship [video], All About Birds blog, January 20, 2015.



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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