Aix sponsa—Wood Duck // Anabernicula—Pygmy Geese // Anas—Dabbling Ducks // Anser albifrons—Greater White-fronted Goose // Aythya—Scaup, etc. // Branta bernicla—Brant // Branta canadensis—Canadian Goose // Bucephala—Bufflehead, Goldeneye // Chen caerulescens—Snow Goose // Clangula hyemalis—Oldsquaw // Cygnus columbianus—Whistling Swan // Lophodytes cucullatus—Hooded Merganser // Mergus merganser—Common Merganser // Oxyura jamaicensis—Ruddy Duck
The order Anseriformes has about 150 species distributed among three families, of which the Anatidae is the largest and the only regional family. Anseriformes are aquatic and migratory for the most part. As a result, all presence in a site usually means is that there was sufficient water for the bird to land in and feel reasonably safe. However, geese, especially, may feed on the ground far from water.
The anatids are relatively well represented in the cave faunas of our region. Most of the productive caves of the region are relatively close to major river valleys or playas that are known to have held water during the Pleistocene.
Anatids from open sites are represented only rarely in the Pleistocene fossil record. This almost certainly is a result of two things: first, many of the open sites are sands and gravels where the relatively thin-walled bones of birds have little chance of survival, and secondly, there are relatively few paleontologists working in the Southwest who are comfortable working with fossil birds. The chances are fairly good that anatid bones (and those of other aquatic birds) from open sites have been recovered, but lie in museum drawers unidentified.
Last Update: 9 Feb 2013