Pacific Flyway Tag

Pintails mingle with white-fronted geese at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Steven T. Callan.

The Most Beautiful Duck in North America

Pintails mingle with white-fronted geese at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Steven T. Callan.

Pintails mingle with white-fronted geese at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. All photos by author.

Ask any waterfowl enthusiast to name the most beautiful duck in North America, and he or she will most likely point to the brilliant, multicolored, drake wood duck (Aix sponsa). Others might claim that the iridescent green head of a drake mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is hard to beat. For me, the graceful pose of a drake pintail (Anas acuta), with its long, slender neck and chocolate-brown head, places this species at the top of the list.