Family Anatidae (Ducks, Swans, and Geese)

This is the largest family within the order Anseriformes, and consists of over 150 species in 43 different genera. They have a cosmopolitan distribution, being present on all continents except for Antarctica.

Buffleheads swimming at Boomer Lake

Since this is such a diverse family, here are some facts about them:

  1. They’re generally herbivores
  2. They’re monogamous breeders
  3. Some migrate, while others stay in the same area year-round
  4. Several are domesticated ‘farm/agricultural’ animals
  5. Many are also hunted for food and recreation
  6. Since the 1600s, five species have become extinct, and many more are listed as species of concern, endangered, or threatened.

Gull and merganser spotted on Boomer Lake

Members of this family will vary in terms of size and shape. They can range in size from the small cotton pygmy goose (found in Southeast Asia and Australia) to the trumpeter swan in North America.

Female mallard, spotted at Boomer Lake

Most of the birds have a broad and enlongated body, while those that are divers have a somewhat more compact body. While htier feet are set back in terms of weight/body distribution, they are fairly decent walkers when compared to grebes or loons.

While it has been mentioned that most adults are herbivores (the mergansers are fishers), the young will eat a alrger ratio of invertebrates (insects, crustaceans, and so forth) to plants, with the ratio flipping as they get older.

There are numerous members of the family that can be spotted somewhere within the US, Canada, and Mexico. Those members are:

Mute Swan

Tundra Swan (aka Whistling Swan)

Trumpeter Swan

Canada Goose

Brant Goose

Barnacle Goose

Greater white-fronted goose

Emperor goose

Snow goose

Ross’s goose



Mottled duck

Northern pintail

American black duck


American wigeon

Eurasian wigeon

Northern Shoveler

Cinnamon teal


American green-winged teal

Wood duck

Fulvous whistling duck

Black-bellied whistling duck



Tufted duck

Ringed-necked duck

Greater Scaup

Lesser Scaup

Common Eider

King Eider

Spectacled Eider

White-winged scoter

Surf Scoter

Black Scoter

Steller’s Eider

Common Goldeneye

Barrow’s Goldeneye


Harlequin duck

Ruddy duck

Long-tailed duck

Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser

Photography goals for this family include: attempting to get a picture of each member that can be spotted within the United States, getting a picture of a member on every other continent, and seeing how many members I can also get a picture of with their young goslings or ducklings.