What are waterfowl?

512 Sutter waterfowl flock

Waterfowl include ducks, geese and swans. These birds have flat bills and webbed feet. They require an aquatic habitat such as rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands or the ocean to survive.

Cinnamon Teal

Dabbling Ducks 

  • Feed in shallow water by dabbling or with the head in the water with the tail up, feeding on vegetation and insects
  • Legs are placed more in the center of their body so they can move on land fairly well
  • Lift directly off from water into flight
  • Wood ducks are also called perching ducks because they roost in trees

Common Goldeneye

Diving Ducks 

  • Feed in deeper water by diving under the surface
  • Legs are placed farther back on the body than dabblers to help them swim underwater this causes them not to move well on land
  • Wings are broader than dabblers which require more wing beats and cause them to need more "takeoff" space, but they are strong flyers


Canada Goose


  • Usually mate for life
  • Lay half as many eggs as ducks but both parents help which leads to a higher survival rate for young.
  • Feed in flocks mostly on vegetation, but also some invertebrates


Tundra Swan 


  • Usually mate for life  
  • Largest of the waterfowl 
  • Feed in flocks in the same wasy as dabbling ducks  
  • Roost on land in summer and on water during winter