This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of The National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.

Episode Transcript: ​

It’s one of those clear, quiet winter mornings on the bay. The silence is broken by a series of loud, insistent calls. 

What’s the source of this wild refrain? There, a hundred yards out where the water deepens, is a small cluster of seaducks, dressed mostly in white. They’re Long-tailed Ducks, back for the winter from nesting far to the north. 

Long-tailed Ducks are named for the male’s plumage: long, slender tail-plumes extend almost a foot behind his body. And he holds his rapier tail cocked at a jaunty angle.

Long-tailed Ducks are far more vocal than most ducks, a feature that has earned them a host of charming nicknames. The name that probably comes closest to capturing the sound of the male’s call is from the Cree language – “Ha-hah-way.”  

This winter, along either coast or on the Great Lakes, listen – for Long-tailed Ducks.  By listening, you’ll have an advantage. Because they can be hard to spot! When they’re feeding, Long-tailed Ducks spend a lot of time under water – and they can dive as deep as two hundred feet! Even so, you can get a good look at a Long-tailed Duck on our website, I’m Michael Stein.


Written by Bob Sundstrom
Narrator: Michael Stein
Call of the Long-tailed Duck provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G. Vyn.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to   December 2016 
“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”

Stay abreast of Audubon

Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives.