Anas acuta


The pintail is an uncommon dabbling duck, which rarely breeds in Britain and is only likely to be seen during the winter when small numbers may be found wherever other ducks are common. Larger numbers gather on selected sheltered estuaries, such as the Wash and the Dee Estuary. It is also found across North America. Like all dabbling ducks, Pintails feed at the surface rather than diving for their food. Pintails eat plant food when dabbling, but will supplement their diet with insects and molluscs in the breeding season.

How to identify

The Pintail is easily distinguished by its long, pointed tail feathers. Males have a chestnut-coloured head, white neck and grey body, while females are mottled brown with a smaller, pointed tail. Pintails also have a long, graceful neck.

Where to find it

Mainly a winter visitor to coasts and estuaries. Small numbers nest, particularly in northern Scotland.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Pintails were once a very common duck across the globe, but it is declining due to hunting and human activity, and is now a rare breeder in Britain due to its specific habitat requirements - shallow pools in open, grassland areas. These wetlands are threatened by development, drainage and climate change. The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife happenings, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and be helping local wildlife along the way.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Anas acuta
Length: 55-65cm Wingspan: 88cm Weight: 700-900g Average Lifespan: 3 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.