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< > Dendrocygna bicolor - Fulvous whistling-duck (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Fulvous tree duck
Dendrocygna fulva
Large whistling teal
Sichelpfeifgans (German)
Gelbbrust-Pfeifgans (German)
Dendrocygne Ó bec fauve (French)
Dendrocygne fauve (French)
SuirirÝ bicolor (Spanish)
Pato silbon (Spanish)
Pichici colorado (Spanish)

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B4, B7, B8, B19, B25, B26.

Aviculture references:
B7, B29, B30, B31, B96, B97
D1, D8

Other References

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information


General information:
  • Whistling-ducks generally do well, either in pens or in a park with access to extensive water area and good natural cover. They are gregarious outside the breeding season, and groups may bully smaller duck species, so should be kept in large areas, in which other birds have room to escape. Most need shelter in severe weather and a well-sheltered pen with frost-free night quarters for winter is suggested, or plenty of ground cover and/or straw to stand on, as they are susceptible to frostbite. They may be kept fully-flighted in aviaries, and have also been kept full-winged in open pens, tending not to wander. Perches should be provided at an appropriate height for pinioned or wing-clipped birds. Commercial pellets and grain are suitable for feeding.
  • Elevated nest boxes are appreciated by most species, although pinioned birds will use ground-level boxes; boxes may be placed over water or land. Eggs may be incubated by bantams and ducklings may be bantam-reared. Many species have been successfully parent-reared in captivity. Pairs kept isolated and fully flighted in a covered pen, with high-hung nest boxes "seldom fail to rear broods" (B7). Whistling-duck species may hybridise with one another and therefore should be kept in separate enclosures, and hybridisation has also occasionally been reported with Netta peposaca - Rosy-billed pochard.

(J23.13.w10, B7, B29, B97).

Species-specific Information:

  • Fulvous whistling-ducks are fairly hardy, but a frost-free area is required for winter - they may need indoor accommodation in severe/frosty weather. They are easy to keep, usually peaceable (some individuals may be fairly aggressive), lively and attractive in mixed collections; they are frequently kept in small groups, therefore being good for display purposes. These ducks are hardy, peaceable and lively. Sizeable ponds are preferred, with a depth of 60-80cm or greater to allow diving; an area for seclusion and opportunities for perching should also be provided. They may be fed wheat and standard pellets, together with green food such as lettuce, duckweed, grass, and bread.
  • This species is easy to breed. These ducks nest in ground vegetation; they also use ground-level or raised nest boxes or a hollow log screened with vegetation. Egg-laying may begin as early as March or April in the UK, but is usually in April to June. Downies require warmth and care initially, with warm water for bathing. They initially require food in water for filter-feeding, will take moist crumbly food later but will take each beakful to water. These ducklings may be best parent-reared, but an incubator or broody may also be used.
  • Communal laying is not uncommon, with large numbers of eggs (e.g. 23-62) in one nest - hatching success may be improved if some eggs are placed under bantams.
  • May hybridise with Dendrocygna eytoni - Plumed whistling-duck, Dendrocygna javanica - Lesser whistling-duck, Dendrocygna viduata - White-faced whistling-duck.

(J23.13.w10, B29, B30, B31, B96, B97, D1).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average closed ring size: L 11.0mm, few males N 13.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 18-21" 45-53cm B3, B1).
Adult weight General 621-755g (B1).
Male 621-755g, average 675g (B3).
Female 631-739g, average 690g (B3).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Adult Bill Male Grey.
Variations (If present) --
Eyes (Iris) Male Dark brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Grey.
Eyes (Iris) Dark brown.

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Adult Male Grey
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Grey

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Adult Male Head and neck rich cinnamon-buff. Crown darker, with dark band down hindneck. Throat buff-white, sides of neck buff-white with fine dark streaking.

Breast, abdomen and flanks rich cinnamon-buff. Upper (dorsal) flank feathers slightly elongated, creamy with black edge.

Ventral area and undertail coverts creamy white.

Upperparts dark brown with chestnut feather fringes.

Variations (If present) Female slightly duller.
Juvenile Duller, pale underparts, less chestnut on upperwing, paler underparts.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts grey-brown; Underparts whitish. Streaking on face and pale marks on wings.
Bill: Grey
Feet: Grey

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Depends on water availability. Often at the end of the rainy season in the neotropics. Summer breeder in the USA and in Argentina. June to October (mainly July and August) in India. Mostly February to August in southern Africa but nearly all months further north in Africa.
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

Trampled mound of plant material hidden in vegetation on the ground, or in tree hollows, forks of trees and the abandoned stick-nests of other bird species.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 10 (B1).
Range 6-16 (B1); 9-15 (B8). Up to 100 eggs in dump-nests.
Egg Description Cream to buff-white. Length: 53 x 38 mm, weight 50g.

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24-28 days (B1, B8).

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About 63 days (B1); 55-63 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males 1 year old.
Females 1 year old.

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Feeds by dabbling, head-dipping and upending, occasionally diving.
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building In pairs or loose groups.
Incubation Both sexes incubate.
Newly-hatched --


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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Form flocks.
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Strong, probably permanent pair-bonds.

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Predation in Wild


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Activity Patterns

Circadian Nocturnal to crepuscular.

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Natural Diet


Basically vegetarian. Rice, other seeds, fruits, grasses, bulbs, rushes.

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Northern Argentina, through Northern and eastern South America to southern USA; Africa south of the Sahara, from Senegal to Ethiopia to South Africa and Madagascar. Indian subcontinent east to Burma.

Widely nomadic within its range.

Occasional and Accidental

Vagrants as far north as British Columbia and Nova Scotia.



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Marsh habitats and swamps, where there is well-developed tall vegetation. Common in rice fields.

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Intraspecific variation


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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Not globally threatened. Widespread but local populations. Concentrates in large numbers in suitable habitat. New World population less than 1,000,000; African population up to 625,000; Asian population declining, perhaps 20,000 (B1).

CITES listing Cites III in Ghana, Honduras (B1).
Red-data book listing --
Threats Persecuted as agricultural pests in some areas (B1).

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Captive Populations


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