Kingdoms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Anseriformes / Anatidae / Anas / Species
< >  Anas acuta - Northern pintail (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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(Waterfowl)

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Pintail

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

Eclipse.

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B2, B3, B5, B8, B19, B25, B26, B27.

Aviculture references:
B7, B29, B30, B31, B40, B94, B95, B96, B97, B108, B128.w1, B128.w2, B129
D1, D8

ORGANISATIONS
(UK Contacts)

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information

Notes

General Information:
  • Dabbling Ducks are generally hardy, easy to maintain and easy to breed. Shelter may be required by some of the smaller species in winter. They should be provided with cover (including marginal pond cover) and loafing areas as well as water. A pen which is 50% water is suggested. The water may be shallow (i.e. no more than two feet deep is required), and muddy areas for dabbling in are also appreciated. These ducks are generally good in mixed collections, although the smaller and quieter species may be bullied. Territorial disputes between ducks of the same species may be avoided by keeping only one pair of each species in an enclosure, unless the area is very large. For a single pair of ducks a pen are of 50 to 100 square metres, depending on the size of duck, should be provided.
  • A diet based on wheat and pellets is suggested, with maintenance pellets changed to breeders pellets for the breeding season. Bread and greenfood are also appreciated. Grit should always be available, with soluble grit (e.g. oystershell grit) as a calcium source when breeding.
  • Most species are ground nesters and both close ground cover and ground level nest boxes should be provided. Hand-rearing is generally preferred, as these ducks are generally poor parents in captive conditions, particularly in enclosures shared with other waterfowl. These ducks are prone to hybridization, particularly with closely related species, which should be kept apart from one another.

(B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B128.w1, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • Northern pintail are winter-hardy, easy to manage, and may be kept in mixed collections (although drakes may mate with other species) and a wide variety of enclosure types. A reasonable size enclosure with large water area and  shores well covered in vegetation is preferred for breeding. Feed as other dabbling ducks: pellets, wheat, bread and greenfood.
  • These ducks breed readily. Eggs may be laid from April to May, in low ground cover or nest boxes or baskets. The duck may be left to incubate and parent-rear, or may lay a second clutch if the first is removed, and even a third clutch. Rearing of ducklings is straightforward; they may be reared on chick crumbs with additional duckweed or fine-chopped lettuce and fine-chopped hard-boiled egg initially.
  • Hybridisation has been reported with most Anas spp.,also with Aythya spp., Netta peposaca - Rosy-billed pochard, Netta rufina - Red-crested pochard and Aix sponsa - Wood duck.

(B29, B30, B31, B40, B94, B95, B96, B97, B108, B128.w2, B129).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average closed ring size: L 10.0mm (D8).

Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 20-29 inches, 51-74cm (B3); 50-65cm (B1)
Adult weight General About 850g (B1)
Male 710-1250g average about 850g (B3); mean 1.8 lbs. (B8)
Female Mean 1.7 lbs. (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Blue-grey with black culmen stripe and nail.
Variations (If present) Female: duller
Eyes (Iris) Male Yellow-brown.
Variations(If present) Yellow-brown.
Juvenile Bill Dark grey.
Eyes (Iris) Brown.

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Legs

Adult Male Slate grey.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Grey.

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Plumage

Adult Male
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Head chocolate brown, hind neck darker; white lower foreneck extends upward into stripes up sides of neck and downwards to white central breast and abdomen. Sides of breast, flanks and upperparts vermiculated grey, sides of ventral region cream-buff, upper- and undertail coverts, centre of tail black, tail feathers long, sides of tail grey/white. Scapulars and tertials elongated, pointed, grey with black central stripe to feathers.

Wings brown-grey, with tips of greater coverts cinnamon, secondaries metallic green, black subterminal, white tips. Speculum metallic green with front border cinnamon, rear border black and white.

Variations (If present)
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Female: head and neck pale brown with fine black spotting, breast and abdomen pale and spotted, flanks brown with darker feather markings, upperparts darker brown with pale feather edges and centre ‘V’ markings. Wing grey-brown, white tips to greater coverts, brown (sometimes green-glossed) secondaries, with broad white tips. More buff coloured in summer.

Eclipse: plumage as female but tertials grey and elongated, wing retains pattern, bill remains brighter

Juvenile Similar to females but males greyer, females less obvious markings.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts dark brown with white markings, underparts whitish, with two stripes from eye to nape on brownish sides of head.
Bill: Dark grey.
Feet: Olive grey.

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year Begins April/May.
No. of Clutches One, but re-nests if clutch lost.

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Nest placement and structure

On the ground, loosely concealed in vegetation, built from dry vegetation and lined with down and feathers.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 7-9 (B1).
Range 6-12 (B1); 6-10 (B8).
Egg Description Greenish or cream coloured (B3, B8); average 55x39mm (B3).

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Incubation

22-24 days (B1); 21-26 days (B8).

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Hatching

Synchronous.

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Fledging

40-45 days (B1); 38-52 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males One, sometimes two years old.
Females One, sometimes two years old.

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dabble, head-dip and up-end, make use of long necks to reach further than many ducks, also graze on land.
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Solitary nests or in loose groups. Built by female.
Incubation by female only.
Newly-hatched Tended by female only.
Juveniles

--

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Gregarious most of the year, forming small groups but sometimes larger flocks.
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Seasonal pair bond but male also promiscuous. Male leaves female about one week into incubation.

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Predation in Wild

--

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Activity Patterns

--
Circadian Crepuscular and nocturnal feeding.

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Natural Diet

Adults

Seeds of grasses, sedges, pondweeds, also vegetative parts, aquatic insects, molluscs, crustaceans, also grain and potatoes, amphibians, small fish.

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Newly-hatched

--

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal

Across most of Nearctic and Palearctic.

London: In the London Area, "passage migrant and winter visitor in small numbers, very occasional summer records, declining." (J322.65.w1)

Migrates to lower latitudes in winter: to Mexico, Central America, West Indies, southern Europe, Middle East, North, West and East Africa (beyond equator in East Africa, southern Asia, Japan.

Occasional and Accidental

Accidental to Bear Island, Kuwait, Azores.

Introduced

--

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Habitat

Shallow fresh-water lakes, marshes, tundra pools, rivers, in dry rather than swampy areas, open grasslands with cover available rather than wooded areas. Often in coastal areas in winter.

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

--

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Widespread and common (B1).

General Legislation
  • This species is listed on Schedule 1 - Part 2 (Birds protected by special penalties: Notes on the revised schedules state "Birds and their eggs protected by special penalties during the close season, 1 February to 31 August (21 February to 31 August below high water mark) but which may be killed or taken at other times") of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
  • This species is listed on Schedule 2 - Part I (Birds which may be killed or taken outside the close season, 1 February to 31 August except where indicated otherwise: Notes on the revised schedules state "NOTE: The close season for ducks and geese when below high water mark is 21 February to 31 August") of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
  • This species is listed on Schedule 3 - Part 3 (Birds which may be sold alive at all times if ringed and bred in captivity: Notes on the revised schedules state "Birds which may be sold dead from 1 September to 28 February (NB: It is illegal to offer for sale at any time of the year any wild goose, moorhen, gadwall or goldeneye, although they are legitimate quarry species outside the close season)) of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
CITES listing CITES III in Ghana (B1).
Red-data book listing Listing not yet included.

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Captive Populations

Common in collections (B8).

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Trade

--

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