A longitudinal white line on each side of the occiput; back and flanks undulated with black and grayish white; two central elongated tail-feathers black.
A. acuta, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. ii. p. 838. Pintail Duck, Mont. Orn. Diet, & Supp. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. ii. p. 356. Common Pintail, Selb. Illust. vol. ii. p. 311. pl. 49, & pl.49*. f.2. (Trachea,) Linn. Trans, vol. iv. pl. 13. f. 6.
Entire length twenty-six inches; the same, central tail-feathers excluded, twenty-four inches: length of the bill (from the forehead) two inches, (from the gape) two inches three lines; of the tarsus one inch seven lines; of the middle toe, nail included, two inches four lines; of the tail six inches; from the carpus to the end of the wing ten inches six lines.
(Male). Forehead and crown umber-brown, the feathers with paler edges; rest of the head, chin, and throat, dark hair-brown, slightly glossed behind the ears with purplish green: fore part of the neck, and two lateral streaks passing upwards to the occiput, white; neck above deep blackish brown: the whole of the back, flanks, and sides of the breast, beautifully marked with transverse undulating lines of black and grayish white: scapulars black; tertials long and acuminated, velvet black, with a broadish edging of grayish white: wing-coverts and primaries hair-brown: speculum blackish green, glossed with purple, bordered above by a pale ferruginous bar, below by a white one: breast, belly, and abdomen, white; the latter minutely speckled with gray towards the vent: tail, and upper coverts, dark cinereous brown, the edges of the feathers paler; two central elongated feathers, and under coverts, black: bill black, the sides of the upper mandible bluish gray: legs blackish gray. (Female). Smaller than the male: head and neck reddish brown, speckled and streaked with dusky: all the upper plumage blackish brown, the feathers edged with reddish white: under parts reddish yellow, obscurely spotted with brown: speculum dull, without the green gloss; bordered above with yellowish, beneath with whitish: tail conical, but the two middle feathers scarcely longer than the others. Obs. The male of this species (as in the case of the Shoveller) partially assumes the female plumage after the expiration of the breeding season: it is, however, not retained beyond the autumnal moult. (Egg). Greenish white, tinged with buff: long. diam. two inches three lines; trans, diam. one inch seven lines and a half.
Not of unfrequent occurrence during the winter months. Breeds in higher latitudes. Said to lay eight or nine eggs. Food, aquatic insects and vegetables, fish, and molluscous animals.