This very pretty duck species is getting a mention not because I have ever seen one on Abaco, but because I have seen them at WWT Barnes in London.  [Later note: see end of post – turns out it was at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve Norfolk]. We went there last weekend to photograph one for your (plural, not single reader I hope) exclusive pleasure, but sadly they haven’t got any at the moment – they have been moved to WWT Slimbridge. I’ve decided to post about them anyway. As ever, thanks to wiki for its handy conservation and classification label, plus basic species details which always get things off to a scientific-looking start before the nose-dive into amateurism.

There follow 2 open-use non-© images, with a dip of the beak to the anon photographers



The White cheeked Pintail or Bahama Pintail (Anas bahamensis) is a dabbling duck first listed by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758, under its current scientific name.

There are three subspecies: A. b. bahamensis in the Caribbean (and vagrant in south Florida); A. b. galapagensis on the Galapagos; and the slightly larger A. b. rubirostris in South America.  The sexes are similar. It is mainly brown with white cheeks and a red-based grey bill (young birds lack the pink). Conveniently for amateurs, it “cannot be confused with any other duck in its range” – though I’ll believe that when I have first-hand experience of personal non-muddle.

These ducks are found on saline waters such as brackish lakes, estuaries and mangrove swamps. They feed on aquatic plants and small creatures rootled out by dabbling. The nest is on the ground under vegetation and near water.

Mike Bergin, a naturalist, has very kindly let me use 2 of his wonderful images for this post. There are others to be found at                   CLICK==>> Indeed the whole site is well worth a good rummage around

 Photo Credits Mike Bergin 1000 Birds

Here’s what they sound like (credit Xeno-Canto / George Armistead)

SPECIES LISTING (Jan 2012): This duck is on the threatened species list – not actually endangered but experiencing “moderate decline or facing imminent threats which warrant specific conservation measures”. Sadly, there are 3 separate causes of decline, each of which may be difficult to combat: habitat loss; hunting; and predation by introduced species.

Finally, here are links to more material about and images of these pretty ducks:

OISEAUX-BIRDS (an excellent resource for many other birds – merci Nicole for link approval)

BAHAMAS NATIONAL TRUST  2-page article on Pintails / Endangered birds 

STOP PRESS To my complete surprise, I now discover that I have got my very own quite respectable picture of a Bahama Pintail, taken in July 2010 at the Pensthorpe Nature Reserve, Norfolk. So here it is…

STOP PRESS Feb 2012 Ricky Johnson, Abaco’s renowned bird expedition leader, has posted a fine example of a Bahama Pintail on his Facebook page, taken near his home. And, with permission (thanks, Ricky) here it is 

STOP PRESS JUNE 2012 While fishing far out on the Marls, we came across our first Bahama Pintail in the wild. It was on its own and quite as long way off – hence the unremarkable photograph… 


    • Hi, thanks – yes, a very attractive little duck. I seem to have got in a huge muddle about the only live one I have ever seen / photo’d. Now I want to see one in its natural home. Good to hear from you again – and thanks for giving credit for an idea the other day…! rh



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