40-3 Volume 18 – 1952

Continued from page 2

American Pintail on Crater Lake

By Charles F. Yocom, Ranger-Naturalist

A flight of Pintails as seen from Sinnott Memorial. Pen and ink sketch by Ranger-Naturalist Charles F. Yocom.

Although many ornithologists have investigated the bird life of Crater Lake National Park over a period of years, only one sight record for the American pintail (Anas acuta tzitzihoa) had been recorded until this season. Farner (1952) states that J. C. Wright, fireguard on Mount Scott, on August 22, 1949, observed a flock of 20 to 30 Pintails flying southward toward Upper Klamath Lake.

From July 28 to August 3, 1952, several hundred waterfowl were seen on Crater Lake or flying out over the rim of this lake by ranger naturalists. Apparently most of these ducks were Pintails, for all flocks seen by the writer at close range were this species. The following records indicate the large number of waterfowl that were seen:

Date Number Location Observer
AM 28 July 100 on surface near Phantom Ship D.S. Farner
AM 30 July 1 flock on surface out from Sinnott Memorial Robert Wood
AM 31 July 2 flocks near Rim Village flying south Warren Fairbanks
AM 1 August* 150 near Wizard Island C.F. Yocom
AM 1 August large flock east of Wizard Island C.F. Yocom
AM 2 August 60 near Wizard Island C.F. Yocom
PM 2 August* 200-500 feeding and flying near Garfield Peak Yocom and Farner
PM 2 August 300+ feeding west of Phantom Ship Yocom and Farner
AM 3 August* 200 flying near Sinnott Memorial Robert Wood
AM 3 August 200+ on surface out from Sinnott Memorial Robert Wood
PM 3 August 3 flocks far out in lake C.F. Yocom
PM 3 August* 800+ beyond Wizard Island D.S. Farner

*These flocks were identified as Pintails. The large flock seen by Farner and the writer on August 2 flew very close and were seen under favorable light so that unmistakable markings were seen.

These flocks of Pintails were undoubtedly migrants that are known to pass through Washington and Oregon and arrive in California during the last of July and the first part of August. This early flight of Pintails is not understood by waterfowl biologists in the Pacific flyway, but banding will assist in unraveling this problem. There are many later flights of Pintails as indicated by Yocom (1951). As a matter of fact the writer has seen migrating Pintails 465 nautical miles west of Cape Blanco, Oregon, on August 30, 1945.

It is not unusual that Pintails should pass over Crater Lake National Park in migrating, but it is unusual that large flocks alighted on the lake and remained for some time, as Pintails are pond ducks which normally feed by means of tipping in shallow marshes and lakes. Flocks observed on Crater Lake appeared to be feeding. They remained in close-knit bunches and swam over the surface quite rapidly, often times flying a short distance, then milling about in compact groups. Evidently these birds were securing some desirable food items on the surface of the lake.

No large flocks of ducks were seen after August 3rd except a flock of over 100 individuals noted on the Lake east of Wizard Island on August 17, by D. S. Farner. The birds observed leaving the Lake flew out over the Rim between Sun Notch and The Watchman, going toward Klamath Lake and it is believed that all of the flocks seen between July 28 and August 3 passed on South.


Farner, Donald S. 1952. The Birds of Crater Lake National Park. University of Kansas Press. IX + 200 pp.

Yocom, Charles F. 1951. Waterfowl and Their Food Plants in Washington. University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington. XVI + 272 pp.