Kingdoms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Anseriformes / Anatidae / Dendrocygna / Species
< > Dendrocygna javanica - Lesser whistling-duck (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)









Click image to return to Waterfowl Contents FlowchartCONTENTS

Click image for list of Waterfowl Species

Click image for list of Waterfowl Agents
Click image for list of Waterfowl Diseases
Click image for list of Waterfowl Environmental Events / Factors

Return to top of page

General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Lesser Tree Duck
Javan Tree Duck
Indian Whistling Duck
Javan Whistling duck
Lesser Whistling Teal
Zwergpfeifgans (German)
Javapfeifgans (German)
Dendrocygne de l'Inde (French)
Dendrocygne siffleur (French)
SuirirÝ de Java (Spanish)
Pato silbador de la India (Spanish)

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


Return to top of page


Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

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

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

Other References

Click image for main Reference Section

Return to top of page

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

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

Return to top of page

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 sucessfully 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 seperate enclosures, and hybridisation has also occasionally been reported with Netta peposaca - Rosy-billed pochard.

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

Species-specific information:

  • Probably the least hardy of the whistling-ducks.
  • Rarely bred. Nest in close ground cover, ground-level nest box or perhaps raised nest box. Lay usually May to June.
  • May hybridise with Dendrocygna bicolor - Fulvous whistling-duck.

(J23.13.w10, B29, B30, D1)

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average closed ring size: K 10.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

Click image for main Aviculture Section

Return to top of page

External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 15-16" 38-40cm (B1, B3)
Adult weight General Approximately 450-600g (B1, B3); 1-1.0lb (B8)
Male --
Female --
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

Return to top of page


Adult Bill Male Dark grey
Variations (If present) --
Eyes (Iris) Male Dark brown, surrounded by thin pale yellow ring.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Dark grey
Eyes (Iris) Dark brown, surrounded by thin pale yellow ring

Return to top of page


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

Return to top of page


Adult Male Generally pale buff.

Head, neck and breast pale buff with crown slightly darker grey-brown and throat whitish.

Flanks and abdomen light rufous-cinnamon with creamy streaks, poorly defined, along the upper edge of the flank.

Ventral region and undertail coverts whitish.

Upperparts dark brown, greyer caudally, with golden-rufous feather margins. Rump blackish, uppertail coverts chestnut, tail brown.

Wing dark brown with chestnut lesser wing-coverts.

Variations (If present)  
Juvenile Duller with upperparts feather fringes paler, underparts paler and less rufous.

Return to top of page

Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts black-brown with pale markings; underparts whitish; face streaked
Bill: Grey
Feet: Grey

Return to top of page


Reproductive Season

Time of year Extended breeding season, peaking in the rainy season.
No. of Clutches --

Return to top of page

Nest placement and structure

On the ground in covering vegetation, in tree hollows, in low bushes and also using disused raptor, heron, crow, stork or cormorant nests.

Return to top of page

Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 9 (B8).
Range 7-12 (B1); 8-12 (B8).
Egg Description White. Size: 47 x 38 mm, weight: 35g.

Return to top of page


26-30 days (B1, B8)

Return to top of page



Return to top of page


45-50 days (B8)

Return to top of page

Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

Return to top of page


Feeding Behaviour

Adults Forage in small groups in dense emergent vegetation, and in rice paddies.
Newly-hatched --

Return to top of page

Parental Behaviour

Nest-building --
Incubation Both sexes incubate
Newly-hatched Both adults care for the ducklings and are very attentive.


Return to top of page

Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Breed in loose colonies. Often seen in groups of 20-25 birds, sometimes in larger flocks (e.g. 1,000).
Inter-specific --

Return to top of page

Sexual Behaviour

Form strong, probably permanent pair bonds.

Return to top of page

Predation in Wild


Return to top of page

Activity Patterns

Roost in trees or on islands and partially submerged branches.
Circadian Generally diurnal.

Return to top of page

Natural Diet


Grass, rice, seeds, waterweed shoots; also small invertebrates - freshwater snails, insects, and frogs.

Return to top of page



Return to top of page

Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)


Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, SouthEast China, Taiwan, Indochina to Borneo, Sumatra, Java.

Local movements dependent on water availability, otherwise mostly sedentary except that the northern Chinese population moves south for the winter.

Occasional and Accidental




Return to top of page


Small shallow waterbodies surrounded by trees (for roosting) and containing abundant marshy vegetation. Rarely seen on the ocean just outside the surf line.

Return to top of page


Intraspecific variation


Return to top of page

Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Not globally threatened: estimated global population 100,000-1,000,000.

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Culled in some areas as pests on rice crops.

Return to top of page

Captive Populations

Reasonable numbers but not widespread and bred by relatively few aviculturists.

Return to top of page



Return to top of page