Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Jim Parrish
Photo Copyright Jim Parrish

The northern pintail, Anas acuta, is a large dabbling duck that breeds in northern areas of North America (including Utah), Asia, and Europe. Many northern pintails migrate south for the winter, and some of the largest concentrations non-breeding (wintering) pintails occur near Utah's Great Salt Lake.

Northern pintails prefer to breed near shallow wetland areas that are vulnerable to drought and human impacts from agriculture. Consequently, breeding conditions for northern pintails are often poor, and northern pintail numbers have dramatically declined in Utah and across North America. Compounding the problem is the fact that northern pintail clutch size is small, with hens usually producing only six to nine eggs per clutch. The decline in northern pintail numbers has lead to increasingly strict hunting regulations for the species.

Northern pintails are generalist feeders, with a diet consisting of invertebrates, aquatic vegetation, grains, small fishes, tadpoles, and other items.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.