Pintail Anas acuta   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Anseriformes Family: Anatidae
BTO Codes: PT, PINTA EURING No: 1890
Number in Britain: 29 thousand birds (Winter)
Conservation Status:
European: 3 Concern, most not in Europe; Declining
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Resident or Migrant Breeder, Winter Visitor
Subspecies: Monotypic
Length: 58 cm Wingspan: 88 cm Weight: M: 900 g   F: 700 g    
Scientific name from: L.: anas=a duck and L.: acutus=sharp-pointed
World Distribution: BREEDS: n&c Europe & Asia, North America, WINTERS: south to n&e Africa Asia & n South America
Habitat: Lakes, rivers, marsh & tundra
Diet: Omnivorous, feeds on mud bottom at depths of 10-30cm
TitBit: Probably once the most numerous duck species in the world, the Pintail is a very rare breeder in Britain, possibly because of its very specific habitat requirements - shallow pools in open grassland areas, which are likely to be particularly vulnerable to the world's warming climate.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: No population trend available
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Winter: 29 thousand individuals in 2004/05 - 2008/09
    Summer: 20 to . Pairs in
    First Record: 1672 [Fossil evidence from Middle Pleistocene, c. 500,000 yr ago]
    First Breeding Record: Inverness-shire 1869
    Latest Survey: Musgrove, A. et al. (2013) British Birds 106:64-100
    Conservation Status: AMBER because Species of European Concern, Small Breeding Population, Localised Non-breeding Population, Important Non-breeding Population
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 AMBER     1996-2001 AMBER  
   Races of Concern:
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
Migration routes: Map of foreign ringing recoveries  and summary map from Time to Fly (in pop-up windows)
European Population Size:
    Summer: 20 to 35 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WCA(I,II,III), WBD(II*,III*), Bern(III), Bonn(II), AEWA
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 55 x 38 mm Egg Weight: 45.0 g (of which 7 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 0
Clutch Size: 7 - 9 eggs
Incubation: 22- 24 days   by the: Female
Fledging: 40 - 45days as: Precocial, downy
First Clutches Laid: Unavailable
Number of Broods: 1
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.663    (M:0.712 ± 0.037; F:0.614 ± 0.067)      
Juvenile Survival: No data
Age at First Breeding: 1 year Typical Lifespan: 3 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 15 years 11 months 20 days (set in 1986)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: F*
Wing Length Sexually dimorphic (female much larger than male)
Male: 276.8 ± 10.3 264 - 289 mm, N =253
Female: 259.4 ± 8.2 244 - 270 mm, N =176
Weight Sexually dimorphic (female much larger than male)
Male: 1.03 ± 0.14 0.79 - 1.25 kg , N =188
Female: 819.1 ± 131.3 620.0 - 1050 g , N =151
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Northern Pintail
Gaelic: Lach-stiùireach Welsh: Hwyaden Lostfain
Danish: Spidsand Dutch: Pijlstaart
Finnish: Jouhisorsa French: Canard pilet
German: Spießente Hungarian: Nyílfarkú réce
Icelandic: Grafönd Irish: Biorearrach
Italian: Codone Norwegian: Stjertand
Polish: Rozeniec zwyczajny Portuguese: Arrabio
Spanish: Anade rabudo Swedish: Stjärtand
Local Names: Winter Duck, Sea Pheasant
Collective Noun:Flight

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Kear, J 2005 Ducks, geese and swans Oxford University Press [598.48 KEA]
   Cabot, D. 2009 Wildfowl Collins, London
See Also:
Find scientific papers on Google Scholar or Scirus by clicking the icon
Wikipedia entry
HBW account (subscription required)
BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides
All About Birds (from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology)