Body weights and carcass composition of male and female adult northern pintails (Anas acuta) were investigated in the Sacramento Valley, California, from August to March 1979-82. Pintails were lightweight, lean, and had reduced breast, leg, and heart muscles during August-September. Ducks steadily gained weight after arrival; and body, carcass (body wt minus feathers and gastrointestinal content), fat protein, and muscle weights peaked in October-November. Fat-free dry weight remained high but variable the rest of the winter, whereas body and carcass weight and fat content declined to lows in December or January, then increased again in February or March. Gizzard weights declined from early fall to March. Males were always heavier than females, but females were fatter (percentage) than males during mid-winter. Mid-winter body weight, carcass fat, and protein content were significantly (P < 0.01) lower in the dry winter of 1980-81 than in 2 wet winters (1979-80 and 1981-82). Changes in pintail body weight and composition during winter are probably adaptations to mild climate, predictable food supplies, and requirements for pair formation and molt.
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Northern pintail body condition during wet and dry winters in the Sacramento Valley, California