South Georgia Pintail

Formerly considered a full species, these ducks are now known to be a subspecies of the yellow-billed pintail

South Georgia Pintail

Región: Antártida

Destinos: Islas Georgias del Sur

Name: South Georgia pintail

Height: 43 – 66 cm (17 – 26 inches)

Weight: 460 – 660 grams (1 – 1.5 pounds)

Conservation status: Not globally threatened

Diet: Waterside grasses, algae, shrimp, clams, snails, seal carrion

Appearance: Gray and brown mottled plumage, dark green head, pointy tail, yellow bill

How do South Georgia pintails feed?

South Georgia pintails are omnivorous and feed by foraging along shores, diving for shrimp or clams, and sometimes feeding on the carcasses of small animals like seals.

South Georgia pintail social behavior

They are usually found in small flocks of up to a hundred in the non-breeding season.

What is the South Georgia pintail mating ritual?

South Georgia pintails are ready to breed around six years of age, starting from late October to early March. They appear to form long-term pair bonds, nesting on the ground in tussock grass areas shielded by overhanging vegetation. They lay up to five eggs a short distance from water. Male South Georgia pintails help with feeding chicks but not with incubation.

South Georgia pintail average lifespan

Pintails generally live up to 22 years in wild, though there is little information as to whether South Georgia pintails in particular deviate significantly from this lifespan.

How many South Georgia pintails are there?

There are estimated to be about 1,000 pairs of South Georgia pintail, which is thought to be roughly the maximum population given current habitat possibilities.

South Georgia pintail predators

Human hunting is no longer a serious threat to South Georgia pintails now that local whaling bases have been shuttered, while the eradication of brown rats in 2018 also eliminated the prime threat to eggs and chicks. Still, South Georgia pintails are predated upon by birds like brown skuas and perhaps occasionally by leopard seals.

Five last-minute South Georgia pintail facts

  • South Georgia pintail males make a shrill whistling call or soft, gurgling quack; female tend to give a creaky decrescendo call similar to northern pintails
  • Once common in the coastal belt of South Georgia, pintails living along the fjords were nearly hunted into extinction until whaling stations were closed there
  • When delivering food to their young, South Georgia pintails often land some distance from their nests and creep toward them so as to keep their location hidden from predators
  • Often confused with yellow-billed teals, South Georgia pintails were once thought to be taxonomically more akin to teals and are still sometimes called South Georgia teals
  • South Georgia pintails were one of the birds James Cook noted during his first recorded landing on South Georgia in January 1775

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