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Northern Pintails: male and female

Posted on Oct 25, 2014

As we get deeper into autumn we also receive a greater diversity of waterfowl joining us in the Northeast. I wanted to share some photos of male and female Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) that I took last week in the middle of a large flock of Mallard and American Black Duck. Some of them were more interested in mating than anything else making it difficult for the Pintails trying to feed, preen and stretch.

I noticed the male first due to its distinctive plumage that always helps it stands out well in a crowd.

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) male drake fall autumn-0519

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) male drake fall autumn-0528

Northern Pintails are slender birds and males have a long, pointed tail that help to make them distinctive in flight, even when silhouetted. The female shares many of these general proportions though they are a bit more difficult to find when mixed in with hundreds of other brown ducks.

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) female fall autumn-0530

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) female fall autumn-0536

Northern Pintails may overwinter in some areas of the Northeast but many will only be seen in this migratory period. Either way with the still often lovely weather we have been enjoying I recommend you get out to see all the waterfowl you can now. In my opinion it is far easier and more pleasant to study and observe ducks when you are not being battered by snow and wearing several layers of clothing…not to mention there is a lot more open water to find them in!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator