Northern Pintail

northern pintail
Few waterfowl rival northern pintail’s elegance. They are readily identified by their whistling vocalizations and conspicuous sprigs.

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) namesake derives from long, streaming sprigs on the drake, that highly visible in flight and displayed high while swimming. Northern oxtail are colloquially referred to as “sprigs.” There are several pintail species worldwide, but none other rival the northern pintails impressive sprig length.  Other important attributes for northern pintails are their elegant, long necks, narrow wings. Drakes have deep chocolate-colored feathers from the head extending to the throat, and down the back of the neck, with prominent white breast plumage which curls elegantly up behind the eyes. Their back appears silver, with long brushstrokes of black feathers intermixed. The drake pintail’s flashy, metallic green speculum separates from gray-brown upper wing by a creamy upper secondary coverts line. Elongated, pointed scapulars and tertials gray with black central stripes lay dramatically over the drake pintail’s back. Both sexes of this species have light blueish-gray bills with matching gray-blue legs, although some hens have darker bills.