North American Waterfowl Species List

The North American Waterfowl Species List or Slam. It’s not a contest. It’s a personal quest.

Many promote an official slam of 41 waterfowl 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, by draw permits 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 North American waterfowl species slams-lists 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 species 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 waterfowl-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 North American waterfowl species slam list encompasses considerably more than 41 waterfowl species 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 excellent waterfowl species resources. There are plenty of good, updated resources are available online and in print.

Waterfowl migrate and many of us hunters follow. Because the world is way bigger than our own backyard. 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. Ramsey Russell’s North American Waterfowl Species List represents the most complete North American Waterfowl Slam list. But it’s your quest. Adjust your personal “slam list” as necessary or desired.





American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)

American Wigeon (Mareca americana) [formerly Anas americana]

Blue-winged Teal (Spatula discors)  [formerly Anas discors]

Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera) [formerly Anas cyanoptera]

Gadwall (Mareca strepera) [formerly 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 (Spatula clypeata) [formerly Anas clypeata]

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Whistling Duck, Black-bellied (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

Whistling Duck, Fulvous (Dendrocygna bicolor)


Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)

Redhead (Aythya americana)

Lesser Scaup (Aythya infinis)

Greater Scaup (Aythya 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 Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)

Black Scoter (Melanitta nigra)

Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicilatta)

White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi)


Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons [gambelli, frontalis, or sponsa])

Tule Goose (Anser albifrons elgasi)

Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens) and/or Blue-phased Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)

Lesser Snow Goose (C. c. caerulescens)

Greater Snow Goose (C. c. atlanticus)

Ross’s Goose (Chen rosii)

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)

Atlantic Brant (B. b. hrota)

Pacific Black Brant (B. b. nigricans)

Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)