White-cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamensis)

White-cheeked Pintail


The white-cheeked pintail (Anas bahamensis), also known as the Bahama pintail or summer duck, is a species of dabbling duck. It was first described by Carl Linnaeus in his landmark 1758 10th edition of Systema Naturae under its current scientific name. Like many southern ducks, the sexes are similar. It is mainly brown with white cheeks and a red-based grey bill (young birds lack the pink). It cannot be confused with any other duck in its range.

Distribution And Habitat

The White-cheeked Pintail occurs generally through The Bahamas, Greater Antilles, Virgin Islands, northern Lesser Antilles, and much of South America (Raffaele and others 1998). The Puerto Rico population is estimated at 3,755 individuals, although seasonal variation in abundance and distribution is variable due to wetland hydrochemical conditions, which affect food resources (Rivera-Milán and Bonilla-Martínez 2007). Pintails have been documented traveling back and forth between Culebra and the Humacao marshes in the east coast (Collazo and Bonilla- Martínez 2001) but can also be found in mangroves and lagoons throughout the island (Biaggi 1997, Raffaele 1989a). It is a fairly common resident in Vieques (Gemmill 2015). Habitat includes mostly fresh to hypersaline water bodies (Raffaele and others 1998) including ponds, lagoons, and mangrove swamps (Oberle 2018). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 123 records within 59 hexagons or 12 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the 59 hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 25 percent (15) of the hexagons, probable in 42 percent (25), and possible in 27 percent (16), while the species was observed in 5 percent (3) of the hexagons but without evidence of breeding (see map). White-cheeked Pintail distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding. 31White-cheeked Pintail/Pato Quijada Colorada

White-cheeked Pintail Distribution

Breeding Habits

The White-cheeked Pintail scrape nest is made on dry land covered by a clump of vegetation, sometimes far from water (Raffaele and others 1998). Previously published reports indicate that this species breeds primarily from February to June, but the season varies depending upon rainfall (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas results show that this species breeds throughout the year with the most breeding activity from May to July (see chart). The breeding activity peaks in June, and it mostly takes place within the subtropical dry forest life zone (see chart). Results show that this species breeds mostly in lowlands within the subtropical dry forest life zone (59 percent of the hexagons) and less frequently within the subtropical moist forest life zone (41 percent of the hexagons) (see table and map).


The current global population trend of the White-cheeked Pintail is described as decreasing. However, some populations may be stable, and others have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2012). This species is currently listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2016). In Puerto Rico, Rivera- Milán and Bonilla-Martínez (2007) note that the pintail is threatened by anthropogenic disturbances including habitat loss and deterioration and illegal hunting, and therefore recommend that more information be obtained on demography and movements and that hunting continue to be prohibited. In Puerto Rico, the White-cheeked Pintail is locally listed as vulnerable (PRDNER 2016) and has a protected habitat in land of 16 percent or 214 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found for this species (1338 km2).