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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio, Kari Pihlaviita, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Pintail

Anas acuta

  • Name also: Northern Pintail
  • Family: Waterfowl – Anatidae
  • Appearance: A dabbling duck, about the size of a Mallard but is more slender and has a longer neck and elongated tail. Wing panel speculum green with a white trailing edge. Males in breeding plumage easy to recognise from long tail, females very similar to female Mallard.
  • Size: Length 51–62 cm, wingspan 79–87 cm, weight 0.9–1.1 kg.
  • Nest: Sheltered by bushes on a shore meadow or among grasses, not known to nest in woodland. Nest lined with white-tipped dark downy feathers.
  • Breeding: 6–11 eggs laid in May, incubated by female for 22–23 days. Ducklings leave the nest soon after hatching and quickly learn to find food for themselves, though they stay together with their mother as a brood until they learn to fly at the age of about 7 weeks.
  • Distribution: Breeds near marshy shores and in wetlands. Densities greatest in northern regions. Finnish breeding population estimated at 8,000–15,000 pairs.
  • Migration: By night or day. Flies south August–September, returning April–May. Winters in Western Europe and around the Mediterranean, only occasionally in Finland.
  • Diet: Plant material, invertebrates.
  • Calls: Male’s spring call a shirt Teal-like whistling “kree”, female quacks like a Mallard.
  • Endangerment: Endangered, protected. Finland is home to 92% of the species’ EU breeding population, though the species’ numbers in all of Europe (including non-EU countries) are estimated at about 300,000. Pintail in Finland is a game bird (in 2009 as many as 7,900 were shot). Globally Least concern.

Pintails look long and slender, and have distinctively long necks. Females, juveniles and non-breeding males have tapering tails, while breeding males’ central tail feathers are elongated into a long needle shape. Breeding males’ brown head colouring is clearly delineated from the white plumage on their neck and breast, which also extends in a narrowing patch up onto their cheeks. They have white bellies, black vents and their flanks, backs and wings are mainly pale grey. Between midsummer and late autumn males’ plumage resembles females’, though they can be distinguished from females by the mousy grey colouring of their wing coverts. The markings on juvenile and adult female Pintails are finer in detail than on Mallards, making their greyish brown colouring appear more uniform.

Pintails’ wing panel specula are greenish (male) or brown (female) with a white trailing edge only (Mallards’ specula have white stripes on both the leading and trailing edge). They have grey legs with dark webs, bluish grey beaks (with black base and tip), and brown irises.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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