Long-tailed ducks reside in a variety of habitats. Generally, they winter in the open ocean or large lakes and summer in pools or lakes in the tundra. They prefer to breed in habitats that provide both an aquatic and terrestrial environment in close proximity, for example: marshy grass tundra in the Arctic, deltas, promontories, coastal inlets and offshore islands are all suitable. Habitat mosaics with damp depressions such as bogs and pools of standing water are also popular breeding sites. A study of summer distributions of long-tailed ducks as well as related species found that shallow water habitats are preferred when individuals are molting. This may be because molting individuals require protection from predation and environmental elements such as wind, waves and ice while still having a constant and abundant food source. Non-breeding long-tailed ducks reside far offshore in fresh estuarine, saline, or brackish waters. Though rare, they can be found wintering on large and deep freshwater lakes.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; polar ; terrestrial ; saltwater or marine ; freshwater
Terrestrial Biomes: tundra ; taiga
Aquatic Biomes: pelagic ; lakes and ponds; coastal ; brackish water
Wetlands: marsh ; bog
Other Habitat Features: estuarine