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North Carolina Wildlife Species Information

Northern Pintail - Anas acuta

Northern Pintail Anas acuta

Identification Tips:

  • Length: 18.5 inches Wingspan: 35 inches
  • Medium-sized dabbling duck with very long neck, small head and attenuated rear
  • Juvenile similar to adult female

Adult male alternate:

  • Alternate plumage worn from fall through early summer
  • Pale gray bill with black stripe down center
  • Dark brown head
  • White neck, breast and belly with white finger extending up back of neck to rear part of face
  • Gray flanks and back with black centers to back feathers
  • Whitish patch at rear portion of flanks bordering undertail coverts
  • Black undertail coverts
  • Long, black central tail feathers
  • Green speculum with white rear border and chestnut forward border

Adult male basic:

  • Similar to adult female but retains green speculum

Adult female:

  • Gray bill
  • Tan head and neck
  • Mottled tan and dark brown back and body plumage, paler on belly
  • Brown speculum with white rear border

Similar species:

Adult male unmistakable in alternate plumage. Females, immature and eclipse-plumage males are similar to many other female ducks but have a distinctive shape: very long-necked, small-headed and pointed-tailed. Note also female's brown speculum bordered at the rear by white.

Length and wingspan from: Robbins, C.S., Bruun, B., Zim, H.S., (1966). Birds of North America. New York: Western Publishing Company, Inc.

Above information used courtesy of United States Geological Survey.

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