Communication and Perception
Long-tailed ducks have an extensive variation of calls that are used primarily for intra-species communication. A fairly vocal species in the Anatidae family, long-tailed ducks can make a variety of growling, clucking, squawking, and yodeling sounds. The calls of individuals have been described as guttural or nasal and are audible across fairly large distances. When mother long-tailed ducks lead their progeny to the nearest water sources, they use specific calls as cues for the young to dive in unison. Calls are also an integral part of mating. Males use a series of four or five calls in deep notes to advertise availability for mating. Females emit single calls or growls to acknowledge potential mates or respond to initial calls from males.
During the breeding season, males confront competitors through calls, physical contact, chases and visual cues such as spreading wings and tilting heads upward. Females defend young by spreading wings and splashing water, possibly to draw attention away from the vulnerable young individuals. Like most ducks, long-tailed ducks perceive their environment through visual, auditory, tactile and chemical stimuli.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic