Long-tailed Duck

Clangula hyemalis




Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Olive buff, green yellow or olive gray.

Number of Eggs:

5 - 11

Incubation Days:

23 - 25

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with down, grass and weeds.





Long-tailed Duck: Small diving duck with black upperparts, head, neck, breast and wings; back has black and brown mottling; flanks, belly and undertail are white; tail is black with long feathers; mask is pale gray; black bill with dark pink saddle. Female lacks long tail; has gray bill. Winter male has long tail feathers, white crown, neck, back, flanks, belly, black breast, lower back and neck spot, gray mask and black wings with white shoulder blades. Winter female is duller; black cap; white face; shorter tail; gray bill.

Range and Habitat

Long-tailed Duck: Breeds from Alaska east across most of northern Canada. Winters along the Pacific coast from the Bering Sea south to California; from Greenland, eastern North America, and Labrador south, including the Great Lakes, to South Carolina. Prefers a variety of coastal waters; straits, bays, harbors, channels, fiords, estuaries, offshore waters, and mudflats.

Breeding and Nesting

Long-tailed Duck: These ducks nest on the ground, usually near water. Five to eleven olive buff, olive gray, or green yellow eggs are laid in a hollow of grass and down, hidden in low vegetation or among rocks. Incubation ranges from 23 to 25 days and is carried out by the female. The young start to fly at 35 to 40 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Long-tailed Duck: Their diet depends on the season: predominantly aquatic invertebrates during breeding, and epibenthic invertebrates and fish in the winter. Most small prey is consumed underwater; larger items are brought to surface. They dive for food, and pick food items off the bottom or from the water column in both fresh and salt water. They drink by scooping up water with their bill.


Long-tailed Duck: Utters a melodious and barking, "ow-owdle-ow, ow-owdle-ow" when breeding. Noisy in all seasons; most garrulous of all North American ducks.

Similar Species

Long-tailed Duck: Northern Pintail lacks orange on bill and white face patch.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
The short feathers overlying the median secondary coverts on the top of the wing. They are located near the back and can be seen as the “first row” of feathers on the birds wing. They are also called marginal coverts and lesser secondary coverts.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X