Long-tailed duck

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The long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis) is a medium sized sea duck belonging to the family Anatidae. The long-tailed duck species is distributed in Arctic coasts of North America, Europe and Asia. It is a rare visitor to the Indian Subcontinent.

Taxonomy of the Long-tailed duck

  • Scientific Name: Clangula hyemalis
  • Common Name: Long-tailed duck
  • French: Harelde kakawi; German: Eisente; Spanish: Pato havelda;
  • Other names: Anas hyemalis Linnaeus, 1758; Harelda hyemalis; Oldsquaw;
  • Family: Anatidae › Anseriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Clangula hyemalis Leach, 1819, was previously included in the genus Anas. It is the only living member of its genus, Clangula.
Indian birds - Long-tailed duck - Clangula hyemalis
Indian birds - Long-tailed duck - Clangula hyemalis


The long-tailed duck is a medium sized bird and the male duck is larger than the female. The male bird measures 50 to 60 cm in length and weighs 650 to 900 grams. The female measures 35 to 45 cm in length and weighs 550 to 800 grams. The wingspan is 70 to 80 cm. The male has a elongated pointed tail. Its dark grey bill is crossed by a pink band. In winter the male has white head, neck and body with dark breast and cheek patch. In summer the head, neck and back are dark and the cheek patch is white. In female long-tailed duck the head is dark in the summer and white in the winter.


The long-tailed duck species inhabit freshwater lakes, slow moving rivers, pools, coastal inlets, islets in fjords and brackish lagoons.

Feeding habits

The long-tailed duck species feed by diving. They are omnivorous and feed on aquatic plants, algae, grasses, seeds and fruits. They also feed on crustaceans, molluscs, marine invertebrates, insects and fish.


The long-tailed duck breeding season is during May and June. They nest on the ground near water and the nest is hidden among vegetation.


Breeding population of the long-tailed duck species is observed along the Arctic coast of North America, Europe and Asia. Wintering populations occur along the Asian and American Pacific coasts, Baltic sea, Black Sea and Caspian Sea.

Movement Patterns

This long-tailed duck species is fully migratory. After the post-breeding moult, southward autumn migration occurs from September to October. They move in large flocks at night.

Status and conservation

The global population of the long-tailed duck is estimated to be 6,200,000 to 6,800,000 individual birds. Despite its large population and range, there is sharp decline of the wintering population in the Baltic sea. The species is threatened by wetland habitat degradation, drowning due to entanglement in the fishing nets, decline in breeding success, predation, skipped breeding and avian cholera. The species is susceptible to avian influenza.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these duck species and has listed them as "Vulnerable".

Biological classification of Clangula hyemalis
Species:C. hyemalis
Binomial name:Clangula hyemalis
Distribution:Arctic coast of Asia, Europe and North America; rare visitor to Indian Subcontinent;
Feeding habits:crustaceans, molluscs and other marine invertebrates;
IUCN status listing:

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