Fulvous whistling duck Dendrocygna bicolor, photographed by Duncan Wright.

Belongs within: Anseres.
Contains: Anatinae, Anserinae.

The family Anatidae contains the waterfowl: ducks, geese and swans. These are swimming birds with relatively short legs, front toes connected by a web, rather long necks and broad bills (Austin 1961). Recent phylogenies agree in placing the whistling ducks of the Dendrocygninae as the sister taxon to the remaining anatids. Whistling ducks are a group of relatively long-legged ducks found in the tropics and subtropics, named for their whistling cries in flight.

Of somewhat more uncertain affinities are the stiff-tailed ducks of the Oxyurini, highly aquatic small ducks with thick necks. The feet of stiff-tailed ducks are placed particularly far back on the body, meaning they can move only awkwardly on land (Austin 1961). The musk duck Biziura lobata is a large Australian duck that may or may not be allied to the stiff-tailed ducks; males of this species are marked by a large bulbous sac of skin that hangs below the bill. The white-backed duck Thalassornis leuconotus of Africa has been variously placed with either the Oxyurini or Dendrocygninae.

Anatidae [Anseridae, Lamellirostres, Mergidae]
    |--Dendrocygninae [Dendrocygnidae, Dendrocygnini] SC99
    |    |--Thalassornis Eyton 1838 [Thalassornithinae] B94
    |    |    `--T. leuconotus BKB15
    |    |--Cygnavus Lambrecht 1931 M02
    |    |    |--*C. senckenbergi Lambrecht 1931 [incl. Cygnopterus alphonsi Cheneval 1984] M02
    |    |    `--C. formosus Kurochkin 1968 M09
    |    `--Dendrocygna Swainson 1837 [incl. Leptotarsis Eyton 1838] CC10
    |         |  i. s.: D. fulva S66
    |         |         D. major S66
    |         |         D. vagans [incl. D. gouldi] S66
    |         |         D. virgata S66
    |         |--+--D. arborea BKB15
    |         |  `--D. autumnalis BKB15
    |         `--+--D. viduata BKB15
    |            `--+--D. eytoni (Eyton 1838) BKB15, CC10 (see below for synonymy)
    |               `--+--D. bicolor (Vieillot 1816) BKB15, CS77
    |                  `--+--D. guttata BKB15
    |                     `--+--*D. arcuata (Horsfield 1824) CC10, BKB15, WS48 [=Anas arcuata CC10]
    |                        |    |--D. a. arcuata WS48
    |                        |    |--D. a. australis Reichenbach 1850 [incl. D. javanica peroni Mathews 1912] WS48
    |                        |    `--D. a. pygmaea RN72
    |                        `--D. javanica BKB15
    `--+--Biziura Stephens in Shaw 1824 BKB15, CC10 [Biziurinae]
       |    |--B. lobata (Shaw in Shaw & Nodder 1796) CC10 (see below for synonymy)
       |    `--B. delautouri Forbes 1892 [=B. lautouri Forbes 1892] CC10
       `--+--Anatinae BKB15
          `--+--Anserinae BKB15
             `--Oxyurini [Erismaturinae, Oxyurinae] SC99
                  |  i. s.: Mionetta Livezey & Martin 1988 CC10, M05
                  |           |--*M. blanchardi (Milne-Edwards 1863) (see below for synonymy) M02
                  |           |--M. natator (Milne-Edwards 1867) (see below for synonymy) M02
                  |           `--M. robusta (Milne-Edwards 1868) [=Anas robusta, Anserobranta robusta] M02
                  |         Manuherikia Worthy, Tennyson et al. 2007 CC10
                  |           |--*M. lacustrina Worthy, Tennyson et al. 2007 CC10
                  |           |--M. douglasi Worthy, Tennyson et al. 2008 CC10
                  |           `--M. minuta Worthy, Tennyson et al. 2007 CC10
                  |         Dunstanetta Worthy, Tennyson et al. 2007 CC10
                  |           `--*D. johnstoneorum Worthy, Tennyson et al. 2007 CC10
                  |--Nettapus Brandt 1836 JT12, B94 [incl. Cheniscus Eyton 1838 B94; Cheniscinae, Nettapodinae]
                  |    |  i. s.: N. auritus JT12
                  |    |--N. pulchellus Gould 1842 JT12, WS48 [incl. Cheniscus pulchellus rogersi Mathews 1916 WS48]
                  |    `--+--N. coromandelianus JT12
                  |       |    |--N. c. coromandelianus RN72
                  |       |    `--N. c. albipennis RN72
                  |       `--Heteronetta Salvadori 1865 BKB15, B94 [Heteronettinae]
                  |            `--H. atricapilla BKB15
                  `--+--Nomonyx dominicus BKB15
                     `--Oxyura Bonaparte 1828 BKB15, CC10 [=Erismatura Bonaparte 1832 CC10]
                          |  i. s.: O. doksana Mlíkovský 2002 M02
                          |         O. dominica RN72
                          |         O. vantetsi Worthy 2005 CC10
                          |--O. vittata BKB15 [=O. jamaicensis vittata RN72]
                          `--+--+--O. ferruginea (Eyton 1838) BKB15, CS77 [=O. jamaicensis ferruginea CS77]
                             |  `--O. jamaicensis (Gmelin 1789) BKB15, CS77 (see below for synonymy)
                             |       |--O. j. jamaicensis CS77
                             |       `--O. j. andina Lehmann 1946 CS77
                             `--+--O. leucocephala (Scopoli 1769) BKB15, M02 [=Anas leucocephala M02]
                                `--+--O. australis Gould 1837 BKB15, CC10
                                   `--O. maccoa BKB15

Anatidae incertae sedis:
  Philacte canagica A61
  Eonessa anaticula Wetmore 1939 M09
  Dendrochen Miller 1944 M02
    `--*D. robusta Miller 1944 M02
  Chendytes lawi CG99
  Chenalopex jubatus SS66
  Cygnopterus Lambrecht 1931 M02
    `--*C. affinis (Beneden 1883) (see below for synonymy) M02
  Eoneornis Ameghino 1894 A94
    `--*E. australis Ameghino 1894 A94
  Eutelornis Ameghino 1894 A94
    `--*E. patagonicus Ameghino 1894 A94
  Eunetta falcata L81
  Talpanas Olson & James in Iwaniuk, Olson & James 2009 IOJ09
    `--*T. lippa Olson & James in Iwaniuk, Olson & James 2009 M09, IOJ09
  Palaeopapia Harrison & Walker 1979 [=Howardia Harrison & Walker 1976 non Berlese & Leonardi 1896] M02
    `--*P. eous (Harrison & Walker 1976) [=*Howardia eous] M02
  Teleornis impressus Ameghino 1899 M09
  Chaulelasmus streperus PB27

Biziura lobata (Shaw in Shaw & Nodder 1796) CC10 [=Anas lobata CC10; incl. *B. novaehollandiae CC10, B. lobata westralis Mathews 1912 WS48]

*Cygnopterus affinis (Beneden 1883) [=Sula affinis; incl. Palaeopapia hamsteadiensis Harrison & Walker 1979] M02

Dendrocygna eytoni (Eyton 1838) BKB15, CC10 [=*Leptotarsis eytoni CC10; incl. D. eytoni munna Mathews 1912 CC10]

*Mionetta blanchardi (Milne-Edwards 1863) [=Anas blanchardi, Dendrochen blanchardi; incl. Fuligula arvernensis Lydekker 1891, Aythya arvernensis, Anas consobrina Milne-Edwards 1867, Dendrochen consobrina, Mionetta consobrina, Anas macroptera Milne-Edwards 1871 (n. n.)] M02

Mionetta natator (Milne-Edwards 1867) [=Anas natator, Dendrochen natator, Querquedula natator] M02

Oxyura jamaicensis (Gmelin 1789) BKB15, CS77 [=Anas jamaicensis CS77; incl. A. rubidus Wilson 1841 CC10, CS77, *Erismatura rubida CC10, *Oxyura jamaicensis rubida CC10, CS77]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A94] Ameghino, F. 1894. Sur les oiseaux fossiles de Patagonie et la aune mammalogique des couches a Pyrotherium. Boletín del Instituto Geográfico Argentino 15 (11–12): 501–602.

[A61] Austin, O. L., Jr. 1961. Birds of the World: A survey of the twenty-seven orders and one hundred and fifty-five families. Paul Hamlyn: London.

[B94] Bock, W. J. 1994. History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 222: 1–281.

[BKB15] Burleigh, J. G., R. T. Kimball & E. L. Braun. 2015. Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 53–63.

[CG99] Carlton, J. T., J. B. Geller, M. L. Reaka-Kudla & E. A. Norse. 1999. Historical extinctions in the sea. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 30: 315–338.

[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

[CS77] Cramp, S., & K. E. L. Simmons (eds) 1977. Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa: The Birds of the Western Palaearctic vol. 1. Ostrich to Ducks. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

[IOJ09] Iwaniuk, A. N., S. L. Olson & H. F. James. 2009. Extraordinary cranial specialization in a new genus of extinct duck (Aves: Anseriformes) from Kauai, Hawaiian Islands. Zootaxa 2296: 47–67.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444–448.

[L81] Long, J. L. 1981. Introduced Birds of the World: The worldwide history, distribution and influence of birds introduced to new environments. Reed: Sydney.

[M05] Mayr, G. 2005. The Paleogene fossil record of birds in Europe. Biological Reviews 80: 515–542.

[M09] Mayr, G. 2009. Paleogene Fossil Birds. Springer.

[M02] Mlíkovský, J. 2002. Cenozoic Birds of the World. Part 1: Europe. Ninox Press: Praha.

[PB27] Pilsbry, H. A., & J. Bequaert. 1927. The aquatic mollusks of the Belgian Congo, with a geographical and ecological account of Congo malacology. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 53 (2): 69–602, pls 10–77.

[RN72] Rutgers, A., & K. A. Norris (eds) 1972. Encyclopaedia of Aviculture vol. 1. London, Blandford Press.

[S66] Sclater, P. L. 1866. Additional notes on the Anatidae of the genera Dendrocygna and Tadorna. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 148–150.

[SS66] Sclater, P. L., & O. Salvin. 1866. Catalogue of birds collected by Mr. E. Bartlett on the River Uyacali, Eastern Peru, with notes and descriptions of new species. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 175–201.

[SC99] Sorenson, M. D., A. Cooper, E. E. Paxinos, T. W. Quinn, H. F. James, S. L. Olson & R. C. Fleischer. 1999. Relationships of the extinct moa-nalos, flightless Hawaiian waterfowl, based on ancient DNA. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B—Biological Sciences 266: 2187–2193.

[WS48] Whittell, H. M., & D. L. Serventy. 1948. A systematic list of the birds of Western Australia. Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Special Publication 1: 1–126.

Last updated: 27 November 2021.

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