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Waterfowls- Bird Family

Birdzilla Center for Bird Identification – Waterfowl

According to studies by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, waterfowl are the most popular group of birds in the United States. In addition to those who enjoy hunting ducks and geese, many species a large, colorful, and loud. The sound of migrating geese on a cold night is an awe-inspiring sound to many.

There is some debate about exactly which species should be included in the waterfowl designation. We are following the criteria set in our Waterfowl app and eBook, which includes several species that are duck-like but not ducks.

Spectacled Eider in flight

Male Spectacled Eider –  Photograph © Alan Wilson

66 species are included in the following bird families. Click on the name of the family to begin your study.

Waterfowls in this category

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Ducks – small to medium-sized birds with a broad, flat beak and webbed feet, they are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including wetlands, rivers, and lakes, and they often form large flocks during migration.

Geese – large water birds with long necks and powerful wings, they have a distinctive honking call. They fly iften in a V-formation and are highly social and mate for life. Sometimes, they are known for their aggressive behavior when defending their territory or young.

Swans – large water birds with elegant, graceful necks and distinctive white plumage. They often mate for life, form strong family and can be aggressive when defending their territory.

Loons – excellent divers (can stay underwater for up to a minute). They are known for their haunting, eerie calls that echo across the water. If you’ve heard one, you’ll never miss it again! They have sleek black and white plumage.

Grebes – Excellent swimmers and divers. Often diving underwater to catch fish. They have webbed feet, long necks, and pointed bills. Grebes are also known for their elaborate courtship displays.

Mergansers – have long, narrow bills, and shaggy crests on their heads. They are excellent swimmers and divers who feed primarily on fish. They are known for their unique mating rituals.

Coot, Gallinule and Moorhen – These three have distinctive, colorful plumage and long, pointed bills. They are excellent swimmers and feed on aquatic vegetation and insects. Loud, raucous calls.

Pelicans – Distinctive pouches under their bills that they use to scoop up fish. Excellent fliers and can stay aloft for hours. They are also known for their elaborate courtship displays and social behavior.

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