Most Common Species of Ducks & Geese in North America

Most Common Species of Ducks & Geese in North America


Mallard - The drake mallard is the most sought-after duck in North America. He’s simple, yet elegant. The heft of a limit of greenheads hanging from a game tote is a great feeling on a cold morning.

Pintail - The sprig on a mature bull pintail is so easy to spot even newbies can pick out this duck flying. He’s like a kite with a very sharp tail. He’s handsome with a mahogany head giving way to a white and gray body and black wings.

Gadwall - Perhaps the most common duck in the southern part of the Mississippi Flyway, the gadwall is sometimes referred to as an “Alabama Mallard.” Contrary to other species, the drake and hen don’t look all that different. They’re both a grayish-brown that doesn’t really stand out. Nonetheless, they’re fun to hunt and great to eat.

Shoveler - The ole spoonbill. Mr. Shoveler is actually quite appealing to the eye whereas the hen is neutral colored but with the same big mouth. Don’t listen to your hunting buddies who say that shovelers taste bad. They’re wrong. Spoonies are grain ducks just like mallards, pintails and gadwalls and taste equally delicious.

Wood Duck - The drake is perhaps the most colorful duck in North America. You can bet that many seasoned waterfowl hunters can reflect on their very first duck and tell you it was a woodie.


Canada - These high-rise honkers are some kind of fun to hunt. Giant Canada geese can have up to a seven-foot wingspan and weigh as much as 18 pounds. Both males and females look the same, though males are a bit larger.

Snow - There is a love/hate relationship with snow geese. They decimate crops, which in turn has prompted a long season and liberal bag limits. But they’re also super smart. Some snows have been killed that were aged at 20 years old. Despite what some say, they’re really good to eat. Filet the breasts, soak in buttermilk for 24 hours, batter, fry and serve with cocktail sauce.

Blue - You’ll find Mr. Blue often mixed in with snow geese. That’s because he’s pretty much a snow except only his face is white. The body is a bluish-gray.

Speckled Belly - Also known as the greater white-fronted goose, the speckled belly is dark bodied and winged except for its breast, which is striped with lines of black and white. Listening to a flock of speck calls is like sitting amongst a gaggle of women laughing at the hair salon. Because they are known as the hardest geese to kill, they are highly prized by waterfowlers.