A few New Mexico birds: Anseriformes


Anseriformes includes ducks, geese, and swans. Birds are presented in alphabetical order by family, genus, and species. Hover over a photo series to control the images.

Anatidae: Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)


Anatidae: Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)


Green-Winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)

On the males the patch of bright green, sweeping back from the eye in an otherwise cinnamon-colored head, is distinctive. As my photos show, the eye patch can flash blue instead of green. In one of those photos, you can barely see the small patch of green (or in this light, blue) that sometimes shows on a female's wing. 


Anatidae: Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)


Mallard-Mexican Duck Hybrids? (Anas platyrhynchos X diazi?)

The male and female Mexican duck both resemble a female mallard, but the male has a bright yellow beak. Mexican ducks are known to show up in the Albuquerque area, but it's more common to see mallard-Mexican duck hybrids.


So far I've seen a possible male Mexican duck  or hybrid twice, each time paired with a female—probably a female mallard. Both times the pairs were in the Albuquerque Riverside Drain (the first time next to Bachechi Open Space, the second time south of the National Hispanic Cultural Center). On one male you can see a couple of curling feathers at the tail, indicating that it's probably a hybrid. On the other you can't see any curl at the tail, so that may be an actual Mexican duck. But quien sabe, as they say down in Mexico.


Anatidae: Greater White-Fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)


Anatidae: Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides domesticus)

I'm including this barnyard goose because it might throw you at first. It's the domesticated form of the Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides cygnoides) native to eastern Asia. The smaller domesticated breed is referred to as Chinese Swan Geese, the larger breed as African Swan Geese, but both breeds apparently originated in China. Its all-white form is more obviously domesticated.


Anatidae: Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)

The easy way to distinguish this from a Ring-Necked Duck (below) is to notice the cloth-like patterning on the back and the lack of a white stripe across the beak.


Anatidae: Ring-Necked Duck (Aythya collaris)

Don't look for obvious rings on these ducks' necks; when their head is scrunched down, the ring isn't visible. Even when the male's neck is extended, the most you'll get is a red sheen on an otherwise black neck. In one photo of a male you can see a tiny bit of the ring, indicated with an arrow. In another photo, which took me multiple outings to score, the reddish ring is obvious. 


Similarly, the female's ring is hidden most of the time but when she extends her neck, there's a more credible white ring.


Anatidae: Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)


Anatidae: Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

The Canada Geese seen along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque include a resident population and a much larger number of winter visitors.


Anatidae: Cackling Goose? (Branta hutchinsii)

While looking at Canada Geese in a field, I noticed that four of the geese were distinctly smaller than the others. They also had shorter bills. I strongly suspect that the four smaller geese were cackling geese, which are so similar to Canada geese that they were once considered the same species. As the flock shifted around, the four alleged cackling geese stayed together.


Anatidae: Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)

So far, just grainy distant shots. Fortunately, the head markings are distinctive. The male has a large white patch extending from one eye back behind the head to the other eye. (It also has a lot of white on the body.) The female has a white oval cheek patch, on an otherwise dark body. Both males and females have dark bills.


Anatidae: Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

So far, just two snapshots of a distant male. The big round circle on the cheek is distinctive. The female looks completely different.


Anatidae: American Wigeon (Mareca americana)


Anatidae: Gadwall (Mareca strepera)


Anatidae: Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)

In Eurasia, this species is known as a goosander. I'm including grainy distant shots because they shows the females. I finally resolved my difficulties distinguishing female Common and Red-Breasted Mergansers by noticing the prominent white chin and neck patches on the Common females.


 Anatidae: Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)


On breeding male ruddy ducks, the blue bill stands out! Unfortunately, during my one encounter with a breeding male, he was napping with the bill tucked away. When he pulled out his bill my photo was blurred; I'll include it as a thumbnail to the left so you can at least see the color.


Anatidae: Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)


Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera)

Both April 2021 images of a female are of the same individual. In one she's flashing the cloudy blue part of her wing; in the other that color is concealed.


Blue-Winged Teal (Spatula discors)