Sonoran Desert Naturalist >>> Field Guide >>> Riparian and Water Birds >>> Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

Anas acuta

Photo © by Michael Plagens

Photo taken at Gilbert, Arizona, February 2009. This is the male, or drake, one of the easiest duck species to recognize.

The hen Northern Pintail is mostly all brown, of the same shade as the male's head. They live on shallow ponds where they dabble for aquatic plants. Before man diverted virtually all the water from the Gila and Colorado Rivers there was plenty of natural habitat for waterfowl in the Sonoran Desert. Cibola and Imperial National Wildlife Refuges on the Colorado River remain as important wintering grounds for thousands of water birds. They can be found during the winter on urban ponds and wastewater treatment ponds.

Northern Pintail are distributed across North America and Eurasia as well. They nest in the northern latitudes, some as far north as the Actic tundra.

Winter Resident - migration from north - absent in summer

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009