Anas acuta (Northern pintail, Pintail) 

Pylsterteend [Afrikaans]; Pijlstaart [Dutch]; Canard pilet [French]; Spießente [German]; Arrabio [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Anseriformes > Family: Anatidae

Anas acuta (Northern pintail, Pintail)   

Northern pintail, taken just outside suburban Johannesburg, in Northern Farms, South Africa. [photo Neil Gray ©]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds in North America and northern Eurasia, heading south in the non-breeding season to Africa, from Senegal to Sudan and Egypt south to Tanzania. It is a rare vagrant to southern Africa, with multiple records in Zimbabwe and one each in northern Botswana, Limpopo Province and North-West Province. It generally prefers shallow freshwater marshes, flood plains, small lakes, rivers and sewage ponds.


Mainly eats plants and small aquatic animals, doing most of its foraging in the evening, by dabbling and up-ending in shallow water. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • seeds
    • tubers
    • rhizomes of pondweeds (Potamogeton)
    • sedges
    • grasses
    • algae
    • cereals
  • Animals
    • invertebrates
      • aquatic insects
      • molluscs
      • crustaceans
    • amphibians


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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