Northern Pintail | Anas acuta

The Northern Pintail is a rare vagrant to Southern Africa and is very rarely seen. There are some feral populations from escapees.

Robert's Information On The Northern Pintail Duck

Northern Pintail DuckThe Northern Pintail is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Anatidae bird family group which includes birds such as Ducks, Geese.

The description for the Northern Pintail (Latin name Anas acuta) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Anas acuta can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 109 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 113. You will find a picture of the Northern Pintail on page 97.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

This bird is known as Pintail in the Roberts 6th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Northern Pintail between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition.

The Northern Pintail has a height of 66 cms and weighs around 850 gms. The head is coloured black, brown while the bill is coloured blue, grey. The Anas acuta has a white coloured throat, grey legs and a brown coloured back. The eyes are yellow.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is black, brown.

Eyes are yellow.

Bill is blue, grey.

Legs are grey.

Throat is white.

Back is brown.

Photo's & Differentiating Between Male, Female & Juveniles

Please click the images below to make them larger:

Male Adult Northern Pintail male adult
Female Adult  
Juvenile Similar to female.
Non Breeding Plumage N/A

Northern Pintail Duck Feeding Habits ...

The Northern Pintail is usually seen hunting for food within the tree foliage.

This bird has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt for fish, crabs, shrimp and other aquatic animals in the water.

This bird is a nocturnal feeder and is able to forage in the dark because of the enhanced night vision. It also forages at this time because that's when the prey comes out in the open.

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten. It mainly feeds on vegetation in open wetlands during the drier months.

Northern Pintail Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Northern Pintail is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

The bird is at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams.

The bird is an urban dweller as well, being at home in parks, gardens and in old vacated buildings.

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Northern Pintail can occur singly, in pairs or in flocks. It nests away from the water during the day and feeds during the evening and night, making it crepuscular and sometimes nocturnal, it is a vagrant to Southern Africa!