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Northern Pintail - Elegance and Decline

What's happening to these ducks?

In recent years, unlike many other North American ducks, Northern Pintails present a portrait of sharp decline. Pintails nest in grasslands near seasonal wetlands. Increasingly, these grasslands are being plowed up to grow crops such as corn. But people who love pintails are responding. Ducks Unlimited, for example, is protecting grasslands by buying conservation easements in the Prairie Pothole region, North America's "duck factory." You can help, too. Buy a duck stamp!

Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote®
Northern Pintail: Picture of Elegance, Portrait of Decline

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.
 [Northern Pintails - males whistling, females quacking]
It’s December, and wintering ducks are suited up in their finest feathers. Let’s take a good look at a male Northern Pintail. With its glistening brown head, graceful white neck, and long, sleek, silvery body, the male Northern Pintail is a waterfowl artist’s delight. Its central tail-feathers taper to a long, slender spike – the source of its name.
 [Northern Pintails - sounds of males whistling]
The smaller female is feathered in warm, tawny brown. Together, they are the picture of waterfowl elegance.
[Northern Pintails - females quacking]
 Yet in recent years, unlike many other North American ducks, pintails also present a portrait of sharp decline. Pintails build their nests in grasslands near seasonal wetlands.  In Canada and the Dakotas these areas are called prairie potholes.   Increasingly, these grasslands are being plowed up to grow crops such as corn.
But people who love pintails are responding. Ducks Unlimited, for example, is protecting grasslands by buying conservation easements in the Prairie Pothole region, North America’s “duck factory.”
[Northern Pintails in spring, wetland environment]
Find out more about pintail conservation, and the work of Ducks Unlimited, on our website, BirdNote.org.  I’m Mary McCann.
                                                              #
Calls of Northern Pintails provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York and recorded by W.W.H. Gunn.  Wetland sounds from Malheur National Wildlife Refuge recorded by Greg Budney.
Individual male and female pintail recorded by Lang Elliott, Field Guide to Bird Songs, ed. Kevin Colver
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2010 Tune In to Nature.org               December 2010

ID#     SotB-NOPI-01-2010-12-08      Narrator: Mary McCann        

[Primary source for conservation background is National Audubon Society’s website, “State of the Birds: Common Birds in Decline” http://stateofthebirds.audubon.org/cbid/]

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