Harteman Wildfowl, presented by Jan Harteman

Northern pintail

Anas acuta

Pijlstaarteend / Spießente / Pilet d'Europe

 

The pintail or northern pintail is a duck with wide geographic distribution that breeds in the northern areas of Europe, Asia and North America. It is migratory and winters south of its breeding range to the equator. Unusually for a bird with such a large range, it has no geographical subspecies if the possibly conspecific duck Eaton's pintail is considered to be a separate species.

 

This is a large duck, and the male's long central tail feathers give rise to the species' English and scientific names. Both sexes have blue-grey bills and grey legs and feet. The drake is more striking, having a thin white stripe running from the back of its chocolate-coloured head down its neck to its mostly white undercarriage. The drake also has attractive grey, brown, and black patterning on its back and sides. The hen's plumage is more subtle and subdued, with drab brown feathers similar to those of other female dabbling ducks. Hens make a coarse quack and the drakes a flute-like whistle.

The northern pintail is a bird of open wetlands which nests on the ground, often some distance from water. It feeds by dabbling for plant food and adds small invertebrates to its diet during the nesting season. It is highly gregarious when not breeding, forming large mixed flocks with other species of duck. This duck's population is affected by predators, parasites and avian diseases. Human activities, such as agriculture, hunting and fishing, have also had a significant impact on numbers. 

 

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern (IUCN, 2012).

 

Aviculture

By Anatoliy Baranets

These very attractive ducks are some of the most common ducks both in captivity and in the wild. The males have a white breast, light belly, and different shades of grey and brown on the back, with green speculum on the wings. The females are different shades of brown. As their name states they have a long pointed black tail.
Pintails prefer shallow ponds where they can get their food of the bottom. They feed on seeds,vegetation,mollusks, and small fish. They don't run along the water to take off like most other ducks, instead they spring out of the water on take-off. The nest is a down-lined hollow in which the female lays six to twelve eggs and incubates them for about 26 days.
These are non-aggressive ducks that get along well in a mixed collection. The downy young leave the nest soon after hatching and fledge at seven weeks. These are certainly nice ducks for the begginner as they are easy to breed and raise.

 

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Above: a pair of Northern pintails, male in front

 

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Above: male Northern pintail

 

Above: Northern pintail courtship

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