Northern Pintail




Reproduction for the Pintail begins in December when the mostly unisexual flocks merge and the courting rituals begin. Usually mates are renewed from year to year but for those in their first year, when breeding begins for pintails, or who are in want of a new mate, extensive aerial and aquatic courtship rituals take place, partly because the number of males far surpasses the number of females. Unlike some duck species, the female plays an essential role in the choosing of a mate. The male will perform the preeniimage found at, head shaking, burping, grunt whistling, head-up-tail-up, or turning the back of the head that is customary during such rituals. The female then makes the decision of which male to choose based off of these displays. When several males are competing for one female, she will usually pick the one that first arrived and tried to establish a relationship before the others. When it comes time to copulate the ducks head to the water. The male then gives a precopulatory head pump and mounts by grasping the nape of the female. A bridling display is performed by the male as he prepares to dismount by drawing his head up and back as he lets out a whistle.


When the mates are chosen and it comes time to nest, pintails tend to nest up to half a mile from water, farther than most other duck species. Pintails are ground nesters and use plant growth, dead or alive, for cover and are among the first of the ducks to breed. Typically females lay between seven and nine creme or yellow-green eggs per nest, averaging 55 X 38 mm in size. Contrary to other similar species of ducks, pintails are considered to be very successful re-nesters if their first nest is lost. This loss could be do to predation, especially skunks, which are major predators of all ground nesting ducks. The pintail does very little to conceal its nests, making it an easy target for skunks and other predators that find their food visually. Incubation begins once all of; the eggs are laidimage found at and will hatch 22-23 days later. It is not uncommon for people to be able to walk right up to nests without the female taking flight because of the incredible protection the females provide to their young. Males offer some assistance but are much less defensive and often spend a lot of time with other males. The young will be able to fly in 46 to 47 days, although it is believed that this can happen four to five days sooner in the northern breeding areas due to more extensive daylight. The broods have a low mortality rate (approximately 30%) due to the fact that they are generally very mobile  the females are extremely defensive of their young, more so than any other similar species. Once the young are able to walk they are led to the nearest water source and learn to eat for themselves. The mother will stay with the young until she re-grows her flight feathers.