One of the birds that we had the opportunity to photograph down at the Bosque del Apache NWR in New Mexico was the northern pintail duck. The northern pintail is one of my favorite species of ducks but we do not get the chance to see them too often in the eastern parts of Minnesota.
They are a circumpolar species breeding in parts of northern Europe, Asia and North America. In the U.S. They typically breed as far east as the western half of Minnesota. Pintails often nest in prairie pothole habitats, prairies near to small often temporary wetlands. Unfortunately the prairie pothole habitats in North America have been shrinking, due to increased farming in the area, which has led to a sharp decline in the number of pintails found in North America. Habitat loss has also forced the pintails, as well as many other waterfowl, to gather with a higher concentration of birds with in a smaller area. This increases the potential of a large numbers of birds dying from an epidemic. This was the case in 1997 when two outbreaks of avian botulism, one in Canada and the other in Utah, killed over 1.5 million waterfowl. Fortunately the world population of pintails is stable and so it is considered at Least Concern status.