Northern Pintail




The Northern Pintail covers much North America at some point in the year and it is said that Pintails are moving to another location in North America every month of the year.

During the breeding season, Pintails seem to be most successful in area with open terrain, shallow waters, and a lot of vegetation around the water source. These water sources can include slow moving streams or rivers, swamps,image found at bogs, marshes, and even shallow lakes. If water sources are too shallow however, they will not stay there because by the end of summer the water sources can dry up completely making them unsuitable for sustaining life. These birds do not nest near particularly brushy or heavily wooded areas.


The migration of Pintails can cover vast areas and can even spill over to other continents such as Asia and occasionally South America. Most often if these ducks migrate to Asia it is to areas in southern Russia. The probalility of flocks migrating to Asia increases the closer they are to the Pacific coast. Throughout these migrations, Pintails usually settle around shallow waters of all sorts that are sheltered from the wind.

Spring- February usually marks the beginning of the Spring migration northward, usually to Canada. During the spring months is also when the probability of finding Northern Pintails in Asia increases.
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Summer- A few of the drakes will stay at the breeding site to molt but the heavy majority will gather in enormous numbers (10's to 100's of thousands) hundreds of miles from their nests to molt. Some of the most well known areas to witness this are Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northern Utah and Klamith Basin National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon/California.

Fall- Beginning in August, drakes take flight with their newly grown flight feathers and head south and travel through a majority of September. These flocks are almost always unisexual. The females tend to to take flight about a month later than the males and come together after being scattered after nesting and molting.


These migrations are simply patterns however and are by no means set in stone. Some flocks start migrating in September, which could be considered normal, and other flocks wait all the way until January, making it seem like spring migration is actually south, east, and then finally north. The flocks are unisexual more often than not and are usually grouped according to age as well from late summer to winter. When December comes around, mixing occurs and the pair formation rituals can begin.