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Order Wildfowl/Anseriformes, Family Waterfowl/Anatidae

Northern Pintail/Anas acuta - Male

L 51-62 cm (excl. elongated tail-feathers of male c. 10), WS 79-87 cm. Breeds on lakes in lowland and steppe, also mountain and tundra pools. Local breeder in Britain. Partly migratory.
IDENTIFICATION: Nearly Mallard-sized but much more slim and elegant. Wings long, narrow and pointed; tail long and pointed, on male markedly so; neck long and narrow; head small; a greyhound among ducks! Flight fast, outer wings swept back a little, long neck and tail obvious. - Adult male breeding: Unmistakable, with long central tail-feathers (cf. Long-tailed Duck); head and upper neck brown, breast and lower neck white, extending as narrow stripe into brown of head on each side. Speculum blackish-green, bordered white at rear and pale rufous at front. - Adult female: Like a slim female Mallard, scalloped and mottled brown, but: slim bill dark grey; head almost uniformly brownish, contrasting with rather grey body with more coarse, patchy marks; and speculum dark brown, at front thinly (hardly visible) but at rear prominently bordered white (visible at a mile!). Belly pale brownish-white. - Adult male eclipse: As adult female but retains upperwing of adult male, and scapulars are longer and greyer. - Juvenile: As adult female but less neatly scalloped on body, more diffusely spotted and barred. White trailing edge of secondaries less broad, speculum duller brown, tinged greenish on a male.
VOICE: male has a short, clear whistle, ‘krrü’, recalling Teal but lowerpitched; at close range a simultaneous whizzing ‘wee-weey’ can be heard. During courtship, female has a deep crowing ‘cr-r-r-rah’, almost like a quarrelling Carrion Crow. Quacking of female intermediate between Mallard and Teal.

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