The Anserinae are a subfamily in the waterfowl family Anatidae. It includes the swans and true geese. Under alternative systematical concepts (see e.g., Terres & NAS, 1991), it is split into two subfamilies, the Anserinae contain the geese and the ducks, while the Cygninae contain the swans.

Temporal range: Middle Miocene to present
Domestic geese
Anser anser domesticus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: Anserinae
Vigors, 1825

See text





  • Genus Cygnus – true swans: The black-and-yellow-billed swans are sometimes separated in the genus Olor.

True geese

  • Genus Anser – grey and white geese
  • Genus Branta – black geese


These two genera are distinct from other geese and often elevated to a subfamily of their own (Cereopsinae), or alternatively into the shelduck subfamily Tadorninae:

Some enigmatic subfossils of very large goose-like birds from the Hawaiian Islands do not appear to be moa-nalos (goose-sized dabbling ducks). They cannot be assigned to any genus living today, though most, if not all, may be fairly close to Branta:

  • Geochen rhuax – initially allied with Cereopsis, but this seems hardly correct for reasons of biogeography.
  • Giant Hawaiʻi goose, ?Branta sp.
  • Giant Oʻahu goose, Anatidae sp. et gen. indet.


  • Terres, John K. & National Audubon Society (1991): The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Wings Books, New York. ISBN 0-517-03288-0

Further reading

  • Gonzalez, J.; Düttmann, H.; Wink, M. (2009). "Phylogenetic relationships based on two mitochondrial genes and hybridization patterns in Anatidae". Journal of Zoology. 279: 310–318. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00622.x.

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