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HomeSpits­ber­gen infor­ma­ti­onWild­life → Long-tail­ed duck

Long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis)

How many Long-tail­ed ducks breed on Spits­ber­gen is not exact­ly known. But you will see this pret­ty sea duck less often than, for examp­le, an eider duck.

Long-tailed duck

Long-tail­ed ducks. Male to the left, fema­le right.

Descrip­ti­on: Rela­tively lar­ge duck with mar­ked sexu­al dimor­phism: Due to their long tail, which alo­ne is a good 12 cm long, males reach 55 cm in length, fema­les only 40 cm. The weight is for both 650-900 g. Both have a con­trast-rich plu­mage. Most con­spi­cuous are the white ring around the neck of the fema­le and the white side of the head of the male.

Long-tail­ed ducks have a com­pli­ca­ted moul­ting pat­tern: They moult three times per year; befo­re bree­ding, in late sum­mer and in late autumn. In Spits­ber­gen, they have their bree­ding plu­mage.

Distribution/Migrations: Long-tail­ed ducks occur in the sub- and high-Arc­tic around the pole and live both in moun­tain are­as and in flat tun­dra; in Spits­ber­gen main­ly in low­lands with small lakes near the west coast. Long-tail­ed ducks from Spits­ber­gen may win­ter near the ice edge or at open sea in regio­nal waters; Nort­hern Euro­pean birds lea­ve their bree­ding are­as in Octo­ber or even Novem­ber to spend the win­ter in nort­hern Nor­way or the nort­hern Bal­tic sea.

Long-tailed duck

The ponds in Ny Åle­sund offer good chan­ces to see Long-tail­ed ducks.

Bio­lo­gy: Long-tail­ed ducks have a mixed diet of some plants, but main­ly mus­sels, lar­vae and litt­le crustace­ans. They nest on dry patches of tun­dra near small ponds. Males tend to return to the same nest each year and like to keep some distance from their nea­rest neigh­bour. As soon as the snow-melt allows, nor­mal­ly in late June, the fema­les lay five to nine eggs and sit for about four weeks, while the males gather at the coast in groups for moul­ting. The fema­le stays with her chicks near a lake or on the coast, until they can fly after five to six weeks.

Mis­cel­la­ne­ous: Long-tail­ed ducks are skil­led fly­ers and can reach 100 km/h. The size of the Sval­bard popu­la­ti­on is not exact­ly known, but it is cer­tain­ly much less com­mon than the Com­mon eider duck. The ponds in Ny Åle­sund offer good chan­ces to see Long-tail­ed ducks. When dis­tur­bed, the fema­les will remain on the nest for as long as pos­si­ble, but are under immense stress at the same time.

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last modification: 2019-02-04 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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