We're halfway through Duck Week here at #BenInNature ...

We're halfway through Duck Week here at #BenInNature ...

We're halfway through Duck Week here at #BenInNature, so I hope you're ready for more awesome ducks! This is the northern pintail (Anas acuta), and at one time, it was one of the most abundant ducks in North America!

While the northern pintail has a worldwide distribution and isn't considered threatened, the number of pintails in North America has dropped precipitously since the 1950s. In 1957, it was estimated that there were more than 10 million pintails in North America. By 1964, that number had dropped to just 3.5 million.

Why the big drop in population? For whatever reason, pintails seem particularly susceptible to avian diseases. In 1997, it was estimated that 1.5 million water birds died from avian botulism during outbreaks in Canada and Utah, and the majority of those were northern pintails.

If you'd like to spot a northern pintail yourself, you might get lucky and see one at Lake Lanier in Martinsville like I did. These birds are strictly winter visitors to our region; during the rest of the year, they are mostly found in Canada.

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (www.cbtcares.com).

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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