Concerns have been raised regarding declines in western North American northern pintail (Anas acuta L.) populations over the past 30 years. Elucidating the natal origins of pintails and identifying production areas of pintails are important steps in determining the cause of the observed declines. Here, we used stable isotope (sulphur, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen) featherprints to determine the geographic origins of northern pintail ducks shot by hunters in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Based on the best data available for inferring the distribution of breeding pintails, the proportion of hatch-year pintails originating from Prairie regions was smaller than expected. Our results suggest that production of northern pintails on the Canadian Prairies may be significantly lower than predicted by the number of breeding birds and may be related to human-induced reductions in nest success as a result of agricultural practices.
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Vol. 69 • No. 1