Northern Pintail Identification Tips
(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)
General Information
- Medium-sized dabbling duck with very long neck,
  small head and attenuated rear
- Juvenile similar to adult female

Adult male alternate
- Alternate plumage worn from fall through early
- Pale gray bill with black stripe down center
- Dark brown head
- White neck, breast and belly with white finger
  extending up back of neck to rear part of face
- Gray flanks and back with black centers to back
- Whitish patch at rear portion of flanks bordering
  undertail coverts
- Black undertail coverts
- Long, black central tail feathers
- Green speculum with white rear border and chestnut
  forward border

Adult male basic
- Similar to adult female but retains green speculum

Adult female
- Gray bill
- Tan head and neck
- Mottled tan and dark brown back and body plumage,
  paler on belly
- Brown speculum with white rear border

Similar species

Adult male unmistakable in alternate plumage. Females, immature and eclipse-plumage males are similar to many other female ducks but have a distinctive shape: very long-necked, small-headed and pointed-tailed. Note also female's brown speculum bordered at the rear by white.
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