Thursday, April 24, 2014 · 6:40 a.m.

Riverwalk Bird of the Week: Northern pintail

The most distinguishing characteristic of a drake northern pintail is the extremely long tail feather known as a "sprig." (Photo: Jack Gentle Jr.)

The folks in the Riverwalk Bird Club don't just watch birds. The group includes some excellent photographers. Outdoors is happy to share their great photos by featuring a Bird of the Week.

This week, we feature a northern pintail, taken by Jack Gentle Jr.

Slim and long-necked, the northern pintail has a distinctive silhouette. The male is easy to identify by his striking markings and long tail, but even the female can be recognized by her graceful, long-necked shape.

Interesting facts
—Although some migrate through the area, pintails are not very common in the Tennessee Valley; therefore, they are considered a prized species among area waterfowl hunters.

—Like the mallard, the northern pintail breeds in a variety of habitats all across northern North America and Eurasia. Also like the mallard, island populations have splintered off and evolved into separate species. Two closely related forms can be found on Crozet and Kerguelen islands in the very southern Indian Ocean, known as Eaton's pintail (Anas eatoni).

—The northern pintail is among the earliest nesting ducks in North America, beginning shortly after ice-out in many northern areas.

This information is courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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