White-cheeked Pintail

The Galapagos' own dabbling duck, shy but endearing


The main local duck species in Galapagos is the small White-Cheeked Pintail, often known as a “dabbling duck”.

This brown-chested duck, with its distinctive white cheeks for which it’s named, can be found around the salt water, brackish lakes and freshwater lagoons that can be seen all over the central and southern area of the Galapagos. It can grow up to a respectable 20in (51cm), and both male and female ducks are similar in size and color. Your Galapatours naturalist guide will be able to help you identify the small differences between the sexes.

The White-Cheeked Pintails forage for food on the surface of the water. Their diet consists mainly of vegetable matter as well as the small invertebrates which are commonly found in the silt and sediment of both coastal and highland waters. You will sometimes see them using their diving skills to escape predators.

When you’re enjoying time on board your Galapagos cruise ship, you will often spot these native ducks. They nest in pairs, and they build them on the ground close to their feeding waters. During the breeding season, they can lay up to ten pale brown eggs which have an incubation period of around 26 days.

This shy duck may be a little apprehensive of visitors, but your Galapagos cruise guide will know how to approach them to calm them, allowing for some lovely close encounters with these charming birds.

Photos of the White-cheeked Pintail

Fast Facts about the White-cheeked Pintail

  • Opportunistic breeder when conditions are ideal
  • Restricted range, but a steady population
  • Nests on the ground, close to feeding areas
  • Male and female are similar size and coloring - can be difficult to tell apart

Where can the White-cheeked Pintail be seen?

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All cruises to visit the White-cheeked Pintail