North American Waterfowl Species List
The North American Waterfowl Slam. It’s not a contest. It’s a personal quest.
Many promote an official slam of 41 species to include ducks, geese and swans (and crane). But what’s the real number?
To include Emperor geese (available to Alaska residents in 2017 and pending availability to Alaska non-residents in 2018) brings the number to 42. Notably differentiated subspecies of common eider, swans and brant, are readily huntable but absent from popular lists of North American waterfowl species slams that nonetheless include the blue color-phase of snow geese, which differ in color only. Why not include inter-grades, too, if that’s the case? And sandhill cranes are not even waterfowl – why not include coots and rails?! As for drawing a hard line in the mud, there are still a few old-timers around that can tell stories of having hunted during the halcyon days of waterfowl hunting throughout North America when Stellar’s eiders and spectacled eiders were still legally hunted.
“There are no fences in the sky,” a long-time friend and respected mentor once said. Your own North American waterfowl list may grow longer to include vagrant visitors to the United States, such as Eurasian wigeons, Eurasian teal, or pink-footed geese. Blue-phased Ross’ geese and blue-phased greater snow geese are not as prevalent as blue-phased lesser snow geese but exist. A European vagrant species might streak over your decoys one day. Breaking out the bafflingly various races of Canada and cackling geese will keep die-hards busy forever. The truth of the matter is that these bird-slam lists never really end. After completing your collection of North American waterfowl species, are you going to quit and instead play golf? There are 5 more continents to go (see our growing Waterfowl of the World page)!
My GetDucks.com North American waterfowl lists considerably more than 41 to include important subspecies you’ll encounter with travel. North America’s indigenous waterfowl species are listed below for your consideration. My primary go-to references are Ducks, Geese and Swans of North American (Bellrose, 1980) and Waterfowl: An Identification Guide to the Ducks, Geese and Swans of the World (Madge and Burn, 1988). They’re both dated, but there are plenty of good, updated resources are available online and in print.
Waterfowl migrate and many of us hunters follow. For many of us the reward is the experience; new waterfowl species are simply a by-product of the chase. Brant and eider hunting methods on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts are similar, but environmental backdrops differ drastically. The birds are unique, too. The GetDucks.com North American waterfowl species list represents the most complete listing of North American waterfowl. But it’s your quest. Adjust your personal “slam” as necessary.
NORTH AMERICAN WATERFOWL SPECIES LIST
DABBLING & WHISTLING DUCKS
Florida Mottled Duck (A. fulvigula fulvigula)
DIVER DUCKS & MERGANSERS
Pacific Common Eider (S. m. v-nigra)
Northern Common Eider (S. m. borealis)
Hudson Bay Common Eider (S. m. sedentaria)
Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri) PROTECTED STATUS [USFWS Fact Sheet]
Stellar’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri) PROTECTED STATUS [USFWS Fact Sheet]
GEESE & SWANS
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) [7 sub-species]
Atlantic Canada Goose (B. c. canadensis)
Interior Canada Goose (B. c. interior)
Giant Canada Goose (B. c. maxima)
Lesser Canada Goose (B. c. parvipes)
Western Canada Goose (B. c. moffitti)
Dusky Canada Goose (B. c. occidentalis)
Vancouver Canada Goose (B. c. fulva)
Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii) [4 sub-species]
Cackling Canada Goose (B. h. minima)
Aleutian Canada Goose (B. h. luecopareia)
Taverner’s canada Goose (B. h. taverneri)
Richardson’s Canada Goose (B. h. hutchinsii)
Emperor Goose (Chen canagica)
Brant Goose (Branta bernicula)