It’s Official, North America Has a New Duck Species

Mexican ducks are very similar to mallards, but last year they were classified as a separate species

Meet Anas diazi, also known as the Mexican duck. For a long time these ducks were thought to be a subspecies of mallards. But the American Ornithological Society (AOS) classified them as a separate species last June. 

The AOS previously deemed the Mexican duck to be a type of mallard based on research by the New Mexico Fish and Game Department from the 1970s. However, After analyzing the duck’s DNA, the organization reclassified the duck as closely related to mallards, black ducks, and mottled ducks, but distinct. 

The Mexican Duck is a large puddle duck with a range from central Mexico to the southwestern United States. Mexican ducks breed in Mexico, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and can be found in California and Nevada. According to Delta Waterfowl, they also look to be expanding their range. 

Dr. Chris Nicolai, staff biologist at Delta Waterfowl, was the first person to band a Mexican duck in Nevada while leading a field trip of 40 undergraduate students. “I heard a student ask, ‘Why does this hen have a yellow bill?’ and I instantly turned around,” he says. “Sure enough, it had all the indications of a Mexican duck.”

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While Mexican ducks aren’t officially recognized as part of the bag limit in some states, it is legal to hunt them. Regulations vary state to state, so check your local laws before hitting the marsh.