Northern Pintail
Anas acuta
March 3, 2022

The following represents my first opportunity to photograph a sequence of northern pintails, although I would be happier if the photos were clearer. At the time, I thought I was lazily photographing another bunch of mallards. I didn't realize the difference until I had examined the photos at home.

For those of you with older field guides, the northern pintail (Anas acuta) used to be known as the "common pintail." Despite the name change, the duck's Latin name remains the same.

The first photo is of a male pintail - and photographed through a bush, which acted like a softening filter. Nevertheless, one can see a primary identifying mark of the male northern pintail, a long white streak going up his neck.

Northern pintail

In flight, the male pintail (on the left) not only has his white streak visible but also has his pintail in plain sight. The female pintail looks very much like a female mallard.
Northern pintail pair in flight

A closer look at the female pintail doesn't show any easy identifying marks.
Female northern pintail

The northern pintail is reported as having a long neck, but I suppose the long neck is something a duck expert would pick out more readily than I could.

Photo note: I used a Pentax K3-II, with the Pentax 150-450mm lens, on March 3, 2022, for these photos, taken in the Toftrees game land, Centre County, Pennsylvania.

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