Northern pintails (Anas acuta) exist as a single circumpolar breeding population but display weak fidelity to given breeding sites. If fidelity to wintering areas is strong, management on wintering grounds may allow local winter populations to increase. Thus, I delineated reference areas for wintering areas based on recovery data for pintails banded during the winter (Dec-Feb) in the United States. Fidelity to these reference areas varied with the strongest fidelity observed for pintails banded in areas along coastal areas or near large bodies of water such as western Washington-northwestern Oregon, central California, northwestern Utah, the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast, and the Greater Chesapeake Bay Region. My analysis suggests that pintails occurred in distinct wintering populations and that wintering ground affiliations to certain areas appear to be more stable population units than breeding ground affiliations. Consequently, winter banding programs may be useful in monitoring survival of specific wintering populations of concern.
Overwinter distribution of northern pintail populations in North America