northern pintail duck

Northern Pintail Duck

Anas acuta


The Pintail is a long, slender duck. It has a long neck, a small head and long pointed tail feathers.  The male has a brown head with a gray body.  There are white lines on the sides of the head that extend down to the duck’s neck and chest.  The Pintail female has a tan head and neck with mottled tan and brown feathers on her back and body.  Both sexes have gray feet.


The Pintail is 20-30 inches in length with a wingspan of about 3 feet.  It weighs between 1 and 3 pounds.



Pintails eat a variety of food items including aquatic plants, seeds, grass, small aquatic animals, and insects.  At Cosley Zoo, the ducks are fed a commercial waterfowl diet.


Female Pintails nest in the spring. They lay 6-12 olive-colored eggs in a nest that they build on the ground.  The nest is made of grass and is lined with down. The female incubates the eggs, which take about 3 weeks to hatch. Sometimes the male will stay to help care for the ducklings, but more often the female will do it alone. The ducklings begin to fly when they are a little more than a month old.

Shelter and Space Needs

Pintails live in marshes, wetlands, and pond areas in Canada and the northern United States. This species migrates to California or the Gulf of Mexico in the winter.

Life Expectancy

Uncertain for this breed. In general, ducks live an average of 2 years in the wild and can live over 10 years in captivity.

Relationship with Man

Pintails are popular with duck hunters, who spend a great deal of money on conservation through the purchase of hunting licenses.

Fun Facts