North American Waterfowl Species List

It’s not a contest. It’s a personal quest.

A listing of North American waterfowl species depends on who you ask. Many accept that there are 41 species to include ducks, geese and swans. But is that number too restrictive or arbitrary? 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 are absent from popular lists of North American waterfowl species that nonetheless include the blue color-phase of snow geese, which differs in color only. Sandhill cranes are hunted primarily by waterfowlers, utilize similar habitats, require similar hunting methods, and might deserve a spot on the list depending on personal preferences. There are still a few old-timers 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 geese are not as prevalent as blue-phased lesser snow geese but exist. Depending on where you’re hunting a masked duck might streak over your decoys. 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 lists never really end. After completing your collection of North American waterfowl species, there are only 5 more continents to go (see our Waterfowl of the World page).

The North American waterfowl list numbers 49. For reasons mentioned, some species and races were omitted. For now. We chose species that are readily available to today’s hunters of North American waterfowl species. Waterfowl migrate so many of us hunters do, too. 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 the experiences are much different. The bird are too. This North American waterfowl species list is purely for personal reference. It’s your quest. Adjust it as necessary.

Click the species below to see all hunts for which it is available.





American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)

American Wigeon (Anas americana)

Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)

Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera)

Gadwall (Anas strepera)

Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Mexican Duck (Anas diazi)

Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula)

Florida Mottled Duck (A. fulvigula fulvigula)

Gulf Coastal Mottled Duck (A. fulvigula maculosa)

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Whistling Duck, Black-bellied (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

Whistling Duck, Fulvous (Dendrocygna bicolor)


Canvasback (Athya valisineria)

Redhead (Athya americana)

Lesser Scaup (Athya infinis)

Greater Scaup (Athya marila)

Ring-necked Duck (Athya collaris)

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)

Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)

Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)

Common Merganser (Mergus mergansus)

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)


King Eider (Sometaria spectabilis)

Common Eider (Somertaria mollissima)

Atlantic Common Eider (S. m. dresseri)

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]

Harlequin (Histrionicus histrionicus)

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)

Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra)

Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicilatta)

White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi)


White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)

Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)

Lesser Snow Goose (C. c. caerulescens)

Greater Snow Goose (C. c. atlanticus)

Blue-phased Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)

Ross’s Goose (Chen rosii)

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)

Emperor Goose (Chen canagica) PENDING

Brant Goose (Branta bernicula)

Atlantic Brant (B. b. hrota)

Pacific Brant (B. b. nigricans)

Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)

Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)