Yellow-billed Pintails



Yellow-billed Pintails, Anas georgica The Yellow-billed Pintails (Anas georgica) are South American dabbling ducks that were named for their yellow bills. The scientific name was derived from the home range of the nominate race - the South Georgia Islands.


Alternate (Global) Names

Chinese: ????? ... Czech: Ostralka žlutozobá ... Danish: Sydgeorgisk Spidsand ... Dutch: Bruine Pijlstaart, Geelbekpijlstaart, Zuidamerikaanse Pijlstaart ... Spanish: Anade Maicero, Pato jergón grande, Pato Maicero, Pato Piquidorado ... Estonian: koldnokk-soopart ... Finnish: Suippopyrstösorsa ... French: Canard à queue pointue, Pilet à bec jaune ... German: Chilenische Spitzschwanzente, Spitzschwansente, Spitzschwanzente ... Guarani: Ype ruguái akua ... Italian: Anatra dal becco giallo, Codone beccogiallo ... Japanese: kibashionagagamo ... Norwegian: Spisshaleand ... Polish: Ro?eniec argenty?ski, rozeniec zóltodzioby, ro?eniec ?ó?todzioby ... Portuguese: marreca-danada, Marreca-parda ... Russian: ??????????? ?????????? ... Slovak: kacica koncitochvostá ... Swedish: Gulnäbbad stjärtand


Distribution / Range

Yellow-billed Pintails are native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay; as well as occurring on some of the sub Antarctic islands, including Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and South Georgia.

Southern, mainland populations migrate as far north as southern Brazil. Those living in temperate regions or islands are generally sedentary (non-migratory).

They occur both at low and high elevations (up to 15,000 feet or 4,600 meters) in the puna zone

They inhabit lakes, lagoons, flooded meadows, marshes and rivers in open country, and - particularly the nominate race - on coasts.

Yellow-billed Pintails, Anas georgica - Female with chicks


Subspecies, Distribution and Identification:

  • Yellow-billed Pintail / South Georgian Teal / South Georgian Pintail (Anas georgica georgica - Gmelin, 1789) - The nominate and smallest race
    • Range: South Georgia Islands, where they are mostly sedentary (non-migratory); however, some reach the South Shetland IslandsPopulation estimate: 1,000 - 1,500 pairsID: Plumage much darker and more reddish-brown than "spinicauda" described below. The flanks and abdomen are darker. The plumage is red-brown with dark spotting.

  • Brown Pintail; Chilean Pintail (Anas georgica spinicauda - Vieillot, 1816) - By some authorities considered a separate species
    • Range: Widespread on the South American mainland from extreme southern Colombia south to Tierra del Fuego, and eastwards to eastern Argentina and Falkland Islands.Population estimate: Over 110,000ID: Brown head and long neck with fine black mottling. Paler and plainer throat and foreneck. Plumage mostly buff-brown with dark brown-black centers to feathers. Spotted chest. Paler and fewer markings on belly. Plumage above is brown-black with buff edges. The wings are grey-brown, greater wing feathers are buff-tipped, secondary wing feathers are glossy black with buff tips. Glossy black speculum (wing patch) edged with buff. Female slightly duller with whiter central abdomen. Secondary wing feathers a duller black-brown. .

  • Niceforo's Pintail (Anas georgica niceforoi - Wetmore and Borrero, 1946) - believed to be extinct
    • Range: Formerly found in central ColombiaStatus: By 1956, believed to be extinct. Last specimen recorded in 1952.ID: Darker plumage than "spinicauda" described above. There was more streaking on the head and neck. The crown was dark brown and the tail was shorter.


The Yellow-billed Pintail measures 17 - 22 inches (43 - 55 cm) in length - including the tail.

It has a brown head and neck, and a bright yellow bill with a black tip and a black stripe down the middle. The pointed tail is brownish. The upper wing is greyish-brown, and the secondary wing feathers are blackish-green. The rest of the plumage is buffish brown with varying size black spots.

Similar Species:

  • The Yellow-billed Pintail resembles the Speckled (Yellow-billed) Teal, but can be differentiated by its larger size, longer neck, and the yellow stripes on its bill.

Breeding / Nesting

The female alone builds the nest, which is usually a platform of stems lined with grass and feather down placed on the ground. The nest is usually well hidden in vegetation and located close to water.

The female alone builds the nest, which is usually a platform of stems lined with grass and feather down placed on teh ground. The nest is usually well hidden in vegetation and located close to water.

Nests may contain 4 - 10 eggs, which are incubated for about 26 days to hatching. The males will help in raising the chicks. The young fledge (leave the nest) when they are about 45 - 60 days old.

Relevant Resources

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


Diet / Feeding:

Yellow-billed Pintails mostly feed on seeds, roots and vegetative parts of grasses, sedges, algae and other aquatic plants; as well as stubble and grain.

The Brown Pintail; Chilean Pintail (Anas georgica spinicauda) is more vegetarian, while the South Georgia population also feeds on aquatic invertebrates (crustaceans, insects, mollusks) and scavenges on fur seal and penguin corpses.

Ducks, in general, feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails, and crabs.

Instead of "teeth," ducks have serrations (saw-like edges) on their bills that allow them to filter food out of the water.

Captive birds are often fed commercially prepared duck food pellets - if there are insufficient natural resources available to sustain them. As they feed on insects, they are very useful in ridding gardens or lawns of harmful bugs.

Feeding Ducks ...

We all enjoy ducks and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around - and it works! Who doesn't like an easy meal!

However, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird - so it's best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.

Please note that feeding ducks and geese makes them dependent on humans for food, which can result in starvation and possibly death when those feedings stop. If you decide to feed them, please limit the quantity to make sure that they maintain their natural ability to forage for food themselves - providing, of course, that natural food sources are available.


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