Learn All About Anas Acuta, Known as the Ruddy Duck

The Mottled Duck, is an excellent aquatic bird which feeds in shallow areas, this species of duck feeds on small invertebrates, seeds and plant material, when it comes to reproduction do not waste time a female can lay 7 to 9 eggs per clutch. In the following article we will learn more about the Ruddy Duck or scientifically known as the Anas Acuta.

Anas Acuta

Northern pintail duck The northern pintail duck ( Anas Acuta ) is a kind of duck with a wide geographic distribution that usually breeds in the northern areas of Europe, Asia and North America. This type of duck is migratory and winters south of its breeding range to the equatorial regions. Unusually for a bird with such a large range, it has no geographic subspecies considering that Eaton’s duck, possibly conspecific, is a separate species.

The Ruddy Duck ( Anas Acuta ) is a large duck, and the long central tail feathers of the male give rise to the English and also scientific names of the species. Both sexes have a blue-gray bill and gray legs and feet. The Draco’s Duck is a bit more striking, with a thin stripe that is white running from the chocolate-colored back of the head toward the neck to the mostly white undercarriage.

The Drake Duck also has attractive gray, brown and even black patterns on its back and also on the flank areas. The female’s plumage is more subtle and subdued, with feathers that are drab brown similar to those of other dabbling ducks. Females make a coarse quacking sound and males make a whistling sound which is very similar to a flute.

The tufted duck ( Anas Acuta ) is an open wetland bird that nests on the ground, often at some distance from the water. It forages for plant food and adds small invertebrates to its diet during periods of the nesting season. It is highly gregarious when not breeding, forming large flocks that are mixed with other duck species.

The population of this duck is affected by predators, parasites and also by bird diseases. Human activities, such as agriculture, hunting and fishing, have also had a significant impact on the numbers. However, due to the great variety and large population of this species, it is not globally threatened. Meet the Anas Penelope Duck here .


This species was first described by the famous Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 as Anas Acuta. The scientific name comes from 2 Latin words which are:

  • Anas, it has the meaning of ” duck “
  • Acuta, which is derived from the verb acuere, which means “to sharpen”

The species term, like the English name, tends to refer to the pointed tail of the male in breeding plumage. Within the large duck genus, Anas, the closest relatives of the northern pintail are the other ducks, such as the Yellow-billed Duck called ( Anas Georgica ) and the Eaton’s Duck called ( Anas Eatoni ).

The ducks are sometimes separated into the genus of Daphnia, which was described by Stephens in 1824, it is an arrangement which is supported by morphological, molecular and behavioral data. The famous British ornithologist Sir Peter Scott gave this name to his daughter, the famous artist Daphila Scott.

The Eaton’s duck has 2 subspecies, Anas e. Eatoni which is the Kerguelen Pintail Duck of the Kerguelen Islands, and also the Anas e.Drygalskyi which is the Crozet Pintail Duck of the Crozet Islands, and was formerly considered conspecific with the Northern Hemisphere Pintail. Sexual dimorphism is much less marked in southern pintail ducks, and the breeding appearance of the male is very similar to that of the female plumage.

Unusually for a species with such a large range, the northern pintail duck has no geographic subspecies if Eaton’s duck is treated as a separate species. A claimed subspecies that is extinct from the Isle of Manra, called the Tristram’s Duck, Anas a. Modesta, appears to be indistinguishable from the proposed form.


The Northern Pintail ( Anas acuta ) is a duck that is somewhat large with a wing chord of about 23.6 to 28.2 cm and a wingspan that is 80 to 95 cm. The male tends to be about 59 to 76 cm long and averages 450 grams to 1.36 kg, and is therefore considerably larger than the same female, which is 51 to 64 cm long and tends to weigh 454 grams to 1.13 kg.

The northern pintail duck largely overlaps in size with the similarly extended mallard, but is more slender, more elongated and graceful, with a neck that is relatively longer and in the case of males with a tail that is also longer. The unmistakable plumage of the young, the male has a head that is chocolate brown and a chest that is white with a white stripe that extends to one side of the neck.

Its upperparts and sides are gray, but the feathers are elongated gray with certain black central stripes extending along the back from the shoulder area. The vent area is yellow, contrasting with the black underside of the tail, which has elongated central feathers up to about 10 cm. The bill is bluish and the legs are bluish gray.

The female as an adult is mainly scalloped and mottled in light brown with a head that is more uniformly gray-brown, and its tail is pointed which tends to be shorter than that of the male; it is still easily identified by its shape, long neck and long bill which is gray.

In the non-breeding plumage called ( eclipse ), the Ruddy Duck ( Anas Acuta ) resembles the female, but these retain the pattern of the male’s upperparts and the long gray shoulder feathers. Birds that are juveniles resemble the females, but are less scalloped and possess a speculum that is duller brown with a narrower edge.

The Tufted Duck ( Anas Acuta ) usually walks well on the ground and swims well. It has a flight which is very fast, with its wings slightly backward, instead of coming straight out from the body like the other types of ducks.

In flight, the male shows a kind of speculum which is black edged with white at the back and is pale reddish at the front, while the female’s speculum is of a dark brown color which is edged with white, narrowly at the front edge but very prominent at the back, thus being more visible at a distance of 1,600 meters away.

The call of the male is a soft whistle like a proop – proop, which is very similar to that of the teal, while the female has a descending squawk very similar to that of the mallard, and a low squawk when reddened.

Distribution and Habitat

This duck breeds in the northern parts of Eurasia south to near Poland and Mongolia, and in the Canadian, Alaskan and Midwestern regions of the United States. Mainly in the winter seasons south of its breeding range, it reaches almost the equator in Panama, northern sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia.Small numbers often migrate to the Pacific Islands, especially to the island of Hawaii, where a few hundred birds winter on the main islands in shallow wetlands and flooded agricultural habitats.

Some transoceanic travel also occurs, a bird that was captured and banded in Labrador, Canada, received a direct shot from a hunter in England 9 days later, and Japanese-banded birds have been recovered from 6 U.S. states east of Utah and Mississippi. In parts of the range, such as Great Britain and the northwestern U.S., the Ruddy Duck ( Anas Acuta ) may be present year-round.

The breeding habitat of the northern Ruddy Duck ( Anas Acuta ) is open, non-forested wetlands, such as wet meadows, lakes or tundra. In winter, it will use a wider range of open habitats, such as sheltered estuaries, brackish marshes, and coastal lagoons. It is highly gregarious outside the breeding season and forms very large mixed flocks with other types of ducks.

Geographic Range

Northern pintail ducks ( Anas Acuta ), also called twigs, are found almost everywhere in the world. During the summer, it is located mainly in the northern hemisphere, reaching as far as Poland and Mongolia in Eurasia and California in North America. In the winter seasons, they migrate to the Southern Hemisphere, including parts of Africa and all of Mexico. Some of the Ruddy Ducks ( Anas Acuta ) even fly all the way to Hawaii for the winter.


Both sexes reach sexual maturity at 1 year of age. The male mates with the female by swimming close to her with his head down and tail up, whistling continuously. If there is a group of males, they will chase the female in flight until only one of them remains. The female prepares for copulation, which originates in the water, by lowering her body; the male moves his head up and down and mounts the female, bringing the feathers on the back of her head to her mouth. After mating, he raises his head and back and whistles.

Breeding takes place between April and June, with the nest built on the ground and found hidden among the vegetation in a dry place, very often at some distance from the water. It is a shallow scrape on the ground lined with plant material and down. Females usually lay 7 to 9 cream-colored eggs at the rate of 1 per day; eggs are about 55 mm × 38 mm in size and tend to weigh about 45 grams, of which 7% are shell eggs.

If predators destroy the first clutch, the female may produce a replacement clutch as late as the end of July. The female alone incubates the eggs for approximately 22 to 24 days before they hatch. The pre-hatching soft chicks are carried by the female to the nearest body of water, where they will feed on dead insects on the surface of the water. The chicks fledge between 46 and 47 days after hatching, but will remain with the mother until she has completed molting.

About ¾ of the chicks live long enough to fledge, but no more than half of them survive long enough to breed. The maximum recorded age of a Ruddy Duck ( Anas Acuta ) is 27 years and 5 months for a Dutch bird. (see article: Teal ).


The Tufted Duck ( Anas Acuta ) feeds by diving and hauling out in shallow water to feed on plants, mainly at night or when it is getting dark, and therefore spends most of the day resting.Its long neck allows it to take food from the bottom of bodies of water up to about 30 cm deep, which are beyond the reach of other ducks such as the Mallard.

The diet in the winter seasons is mainly plant material, including seeds and rhizomes of aquatic plants, but the Ruddy Duck ( Anas Acuta ) occasionally feeds on roots, grains and other seed species in the fields, although less frequently than other types of Anas ducks. During the nesting season, this bird feeds mainly on small invertebrates, including aquatic insects, as well as mollusks and crustaceans.


It is susceptible to a wide variety of parasites including Cryptosporidium, Giardia, tapeworms, blood parasites and also to the well-known external feather lice, and has also been affected by other kinds of avian diseases. It is often the dominant species in major mortality events for the well-known avian botulism and fowl cholera, and can also become infected with a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza, the H5N1 strain, which is also occasionally infectious and can spread to humans.

The Northern Pintail ( Anas Acuta ) is a very popular species for game shooting due to its speed, agility and excellent eating qualities, and it is hunted through its range. Despite being one of the most numerous ducks in the world, the combination of hunting and other factors have led to a very noticeable decline in its population and, at times, local restrictions on hunting have been introduced to help conserve the remaining numbers.

The preferred habitat of this species is shallow water and it is naturally susceptible to problems such as drought or vegetation encroachment, however the duck’s habitat may be increasingly threatened by climate change. Populations are also affected by the conversion of wetlands and grasslands to arable crops, depriving Anas Acuta of feeding and nesting areas.

Spring planting means that many of the nests of this early-breeding duck are destroyed by large agricultural activities, a Canadian study showed that more than half of the nests of this species are destroyed by agricultural work, such as plowing and harrowing.

Hunting with lead shot, along with the use of lead in angling, has been identified as 1 of the main causes of poisoning by lead compounds in waterfowl, which very often feed on the bottom of lakes and wetlands where shot accumulates.

A Spanish study also showed that the Ruddy Duck and Pochard were the species with the highest levels of lead shot ingestion, i.e. higher than in the northern countries of the Western Palearctic flyway, where such lead shot activity has been strictly prohibited. In the United States, Canada and many other Western European countries, all shot used for waterfowl must now be non-toxic and therefore may not contain lead.


The Ruddy Duck ( Anas Acuta ) has a wide range, estimated at 28,400,000 km², and a population which is estimated at 5.3 to 5.4 million individuals worldwide. Therefore, it is not believed to meet the IUCN Red List threshold criterion of a population decline of more than 30 % in 10 years or 3 generations, and should be assessed as a species of Least Concern.

In the Palaearctic, breeding populations are declining in much of the area, including its stronghold in Russia. In other regions, populations are stable or fluctuating.

Colonies in North America at least have been severely affected by avian diseases, with the breeding population declining from more than 10 million in 1957 to about 3.5 million in 1964. However, the species has been recovering from that low point, with the breeding population in 1999 being 30% below the long-term average, despite years of major efforts focused on restoring the species.

In 1997, an estimated 1.5 million waterfowl, mostly Ruddy Ducks (Anas Acuta), died from avian botulism during two outbreaks in Canada and Utah.

The Ruddy Duck ( Anas Acuta ) is one of the species covered by the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds ( AEWA ), but does not have a certain special status under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora ( CITES ), which regulates international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants.

Shelf Life

About ¾ of the young live long enough to fledge, and no more than half of the remaining birds usually live to produce young of their own.


The Tufted Duck ( Anas Acuta ) tends to submerge its head and the upper half of its body, while its tail is left on the surface of the water, as it feeds on snails, aquatic insects and the roots of aquatic plants. This process is called final.The Tufted Duck ( Anas Acuta ) will associate with many other different species of waterfowl.

The Ruddy Duck will migrate amazingly large distances during the winter to warmer climates in a very short period of time. A bird that was captured and banded in Labrador in Canada was harvested by a hunter in England 9 days later.


The nests and chicks of the Ruddy Duck ( Anas Acuta ) are vulnerable to predation by mammals, including foxes and badgers, and birds such as gulls, crows and magpies. Adults may flee to escape terrestrial predators, but nesting females in particular may be surprised by large carnivores such as wildcats.

Birds of prey that are large, such as the northern goshawk, will take ducks off the ground, and some of the hawks, including the gyrfalcon, possess the speed and power to catch flying birds. People are the main predators of adult Ruddy Ducks, but they are also preyed upon by bobcats and coyotes. To avoid predation, they tend to take flight.

Farmers, in the process of working in their fields, destroy nests. Crows, magpies, gulls, skunks, ground squirrels, coyotes, foxes, badgers and even raccoons also destroy the nests and eat the eggs.

Known predators

Humans ( Homo sapiens )

Lynx ( Lynx rufus )

The Red Fox ( Vulpes vulpes )

Eurasian Badgers ( Meles meles )

Eurasian Kite-tailed Fox ( Vulpes velox )

Skunks ( Mephitidae )

Gray Fox ( Urocyon cinereoargenteus )

The American Badgers ( Taxidea taxus )

Northern Goshawk ( Accipiter gentilis )

Northern Goshawk ( Falco rusticolus )

The Wild Cat ( Felis silvestris )

Predators that destroy the Nests and eat the Eggs

The Seagull ( Laridae )

Striped Skunk ( Mephitis mephitis )

The Raven ( Corvus )

The Magpie ( Pica )

Ground Squirrels ( Spermophilus )

Coyotes ( Canis latrans )

The Badger ( Taxidea taxus )

Raccoons ( Procyon lotor )

Economic Importance to Humans in a Positive Way

The northern pintail duck ( Anas Acuta ) is one of the ducks that are most sought after by duck hunters throughout its habitat. During duck season, hunters tend to spend a lot of money on hunting licenses, sporting goods, and travel arrangements for towns that live near migratory routes, and add a considerable amount of revenue to the towns’ economies.

Economic Importance to Humans in a Negative Way

Like other waterfowl species, the Ruddy Duck ( Anas Acuta ) also damages cereal crops and costs farmers a considerable amount of money each year because of this damage.

Interesting Facts

  • When it comes to breeding, northern pintails waste no time. They begin nesting as soon as the ice tends to thaw, arriving as far north as Canada’s Northwest Territories in late April.


  • Northern Pintail ( Anas Acuta ) are not restricted to North America; they also occur in regions of Europe, the Middle East, India and Asia. In South America, the white-cheeked pintail and the yellow-billed duck take their place.
  • The oldest recorded Northern Pintail Duck was a male, and at least 22 years, 3 months old when it was found in Saskatchewan, Canada.


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