Long-Tailed Duck

Clangula hyemalis
Range Map

Older literature called this species ‘Old Squaw’. When the offensive nature of this term was understood, the name was changed to Long-Tailed Duck. These ducks are Arctic zone breeders, but they favor salt water environs in winter.

The Long-Tailed Duck is an under-studied species. Data collected in the western USA suggests a declining population. Science regards these ducks as monotypic (i.e. no subspecies).

My only meeting with this species occurred while I was on my 2005 Alaska adventure. Heading south on the Dempster Highway after reaching the north end of the road at Inuvik (Northwest Territory, Canada), I stopped at the highest elevation along the route at North Fork Pass to look for birds. I found a small lake beside the road. It was rich with breeding shorebirds (Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, and Red-Necked Phalaropes). Out in the middle of the lake was a pair of Long-Tailed Ducks. I wish I had better images of these birds, but they were rather distant.

4 Photos

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