The Northern Pintail is a large dabbling duck. With the exception of the ubiquitous Mallard, it is likely the most abundant species of waterfowl on the planet. They are widespread across North America, Europe, and Asia, with a circumpolar breeding pattern. In North America, they breed from Alaska, the central Canadian Arctic and western Greenland south to the western and central United States. They can be found in a variety of open habitats, including prairies, farmland, northern tundra, near bodies of water. In migration and winter around any shallow waters with exposed mudflats, including fresh and brackish marshes, lakes, flooded fields. Their diet consists of the seeds of aquatic plants, such as, pondweeds, sedges, grasses and smartweeds. They also feed on seeds in fields, as well as, eating small aquatic animals.
The IUCN Red List classifies their conservation status as "Least Concern" due primarily to their extremely large range. However, where they were once one of the most abundant ducks in North America, they have suffered disturbing declines since the 1950s. More than any other North American waterfowl species, their abundance has suffered from persistent drought and loss of grassland habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region. Throughout most of their range, between 1966 and 2012 their population has declined by 72%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. The 2014 State of the Birds listed them as a Common Bird in Steep Decline.
Their scientific name, Anas acuta, means - Anas L. anas duck.; acuta L. acutus, sharp-pointed.