northern pintail in exhibit

Northern Pintail

Scientific Name
Anas acuta
Geographic Range
Russia, Europe, North and Central America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and areas surrounding the Sahara Desert
Seeds, leaves, aquatic vegetation, snails, crustaceans, and grains
Northern pintail in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern

More Information

These medium-sized ducks are dabblers between 20–30 inches long, with 34-inch-long wingspans. They have long necks and slim bodies. During breeding season, males develop a white breast and a white line down their brown head. Otherwise, they are brown, like the speckled females. Males and females also have different vocalizations. These birds are named for their long, pointed tail feathers.

Northern pintails engage in interesting courtship behaviors—including chases. Females nest early in the year, sometimes before ice has even melted. Nests are shallow depressions on dry ground, usually near water. Males do not stick around during the 25-day incubation. Ducklings leave the nest within a day of hatching and fledge after a month or two.

Did You Know?

  • Northern pintails migrate in large groups from northern Canada and Eurasia to Central America, northern Africa, and southern mainland Asia. They form long, waving lines that can reach speeds of 48 mph. The longest recorded nonstop northern pintail flight was 1,800 miles.
  • Females have been known to feign injury to divert predators from their young.
  • This is one of the most numerous species of duck, with a very large range.


Animal Care staff working with seal

Commitment to Care

Lincoln Park Zoo prioritizes individual well-being over everything else. Guided by scientific research, staff and volunteers work to provide the best welfare outcomes for each individual in the zoo’s care.

Learn More

Support Your Zoo

Two Chilean flamingos in exhibit

Animals Depend On People Too

When you ADOPT an animal, you support world-class animal care by helping to provide specially formulated diets, new habitat elements, and regular veterinary checkups.

Adopt an Animal

Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

Wish List

The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy.

Browse the Wish List

African penguin eating a fish

Take Action With Us

Wildlife face many daunting challenges—some global, like planet-wide climate change, and some that affect individuals, like an animal ingesting plastic—but now is not the time to despair. None of these problems are too big for us to come together and solve.

Take Action

Empty Playlist