This is one of the most favourite ducks of all. It is called the Oldsquaw in North America and is predominately a sea-duck in the winter. Then it comes as far South as Britain, South Korea, Northern California and North Carolina. Then it is often in very large flocks feeding by diving (usually about 10 metres, sometimes five or six times as much) to feed on shellfish beds.
Very vulnerable to oil pollution, to tangling in fish nets and even over-exploitation by shooting. Has declined in many areas but still very large numbers breed higher up in the Arctic. Both coastal and inland breeder and is able to wait around while the ice thaws to nest in very North.
These are dainty ducks with the adult male having mainly white plumage, with green to the sides of the head, brown on the side of the neck, as a broad breast band and wings and hugely long tail. The females lack the long tail but do have pale underparts and pale on the head. A very occasional breeder in Britain (mostly the Northern Isles).
The long tailed duck of the sea - Pintails are mostly on fresh water.
Length 440 mms (+ 130 mm tail for drakes) Closed wing 215 mm Weight 750 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead