Our Beautiful World

Whistling Ducks, Dendrocygna  

© Lubomir Hlasek

Family Anatidae
Subfamily: Dendrocygninae
One pantropical genus, of distinctive long-legged goose-like birds
Genus: Dendrocygna, whistling ducks (9 living species)

Dendrocygna guttata Perleplystreand Spotted Whistling-Duck
Dendrocygna eytoni Prydplystreand Plumed Whistling-Duck
Dendrocygna bicolor Brunplystreand Fulvous Whistling-Duck
Dendrocygna arcuata Hetteplystreand Wandering Whistling-Duck
Dendrocygna javanica Småplystreand Lesser Whistling-Duck
Dendrocygna viduata Maskeplystreand White-faced Whistling-Duck
Dendrocygna arborea Palmeplystreand West Indian Whistling-Duck
Dendrocygna autumnalis Rødnebbplystreand Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

The whistling ducks or tree ducks are a subfamily, Dendrocygninae of the duck, goose and swan family of birds, Anatidae.
Dendrocygna, is from latin, and translated to english it is something like 'treeswans'. This because they often are found
resting in trees.
It contains only one genus, Dendrocygna, containing eight living species These species have a worldwide distribution
through the tropics and subtropics. These ducks have, as their name implies, distinctive whistling calls.

The whistling ducks have long legs and necks, and are very gregarious, flying to and from night-time roosts in large flocks.
Both sexes have the same plumage, and all have a hunched appearance and black underwings in flight.

Spotted Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna guttata, No: Perleplystreand

Photo: Viajar24h.com

Its range is the Philippines south through central Indonesia to New Guinea. It has recently colonised Australia, with a small population now resident at Weipa on the western coast of Cape York Peninsula. See map below.

It is seen in lakes with emerging aquatic vegetation, such as grass.
This bird is gregarious. In nature it is common to see it in flocks counting in the hundreds. It associates with the
Wandering Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna arcuata.

Nesting is done in holes in trees. A clutch with eleven eggs is registered. Incubation takes 31 days.
It is possible that both parents incubate.

This is one of the larger whistling-ducks. The adults of this species reach a length from 43 to 50 cm.
The average weight is about 800 grams.
The Spotted Whistling-Duck in Spanish is called “Yaguasa Moteada”.

The Spotted Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna guttata, Lockhart River, Cape York. Dec.r 2008
Photo: Aviceda

The Spotted Whistling Duck is spread over a large area between 100,000 to 1,000,000 km².
It has a rather large global population estimated between 10,000 and 25,000 ducks.

ARKive video - Spotted whistling duck - overview
Spotted whistling duck, Dendrocygna guttata
BBC Natural History Unit

Plumed Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna eytoni, No: Prydplystreand

© www.arthurgrosset.com

The Plumed Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna eytoni, also called the Grass Whistle Duck or Eaton's tree-duck, is a whistling
duck which breeds in New Guinea and Australia. It is a predominantly brown-coloured duck with a long neck and
characteristic plumes arising from its flanks. The sexes are similar in appearance

Described by English naturalist Thomas Campbell Eyton in 1838, its specific epithet honours its namer. Its generic name is
derived from the Ancient Greek terms dendron "tree", and kuknos (via Latin cygnus) "swan". Alternate common names
include; Eyton's Plumed, Red-legged or Whistling Tree-duck, and Grey or Red-legged Whistler

Photo: Glen Fergus

Measuring 42–60 cm and weighing around a kilogram, it is a long-necked duck with brown upperparts, paler underparts
and a white rump. The chest is chestnut with thin black bars, while long black-margined plumes arise from its flanks.
Its bill and legs are pink, and its iris is yellow. The male and female are similar in appearance.
The species has a characteristic lowered neck and short, dark, rounded wings while flying.

The call is a characteristic whistle which gives the bird its common name

Prydplystreand, Dendrocygna eytoni, June, 2008
Photo: Glen Fergus

The range is eastern, northern and central Australia from the Kimberley across the Top End and Cape York, down to
southern Queensland and northern New South Wales on the east coast, although may reach northwestern Victoria inland,
in the vicinity of the Murray River. It is also found in New Guinea. The preferred habitat is tall grassland and savanna,
often near bodies of water.

Rather than diving for food in bodies of water like other ducks, the Plumed Whistling Duck feeds by cropping grass on land.

The Plumed Whistling Duck breeds during the wet season, generally in January to March, although it can be later in April or,
in a few cases, May. One brood is raised per season. The nest is a mattress of grasses or similar material in tall grass,
or in or near vegetation as cover. 10 to 12 oval eggs are laid, measuring 48 x 36 mm; 14 or more have been recorded on
occasion. Initially shiny and creamy-coloured, they may become stained. The incubation period is around 30 days.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna bicolor, No: Brunplystreand

A Fulvous Whistling Duck, Photo taken in Wilhelma, Stuttgart, 2004-08-07
Foto: Branko Kannenberg

The Fulvous Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna bicolor, is a whistling duck which breeds across the world's tropical regions
in much of Central and South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and the Gulf Coast of the United States.

The Fulvous Whistling Duck is a common but wary species. It is largely resident, apart from local movements, but vagrancy
has occurred to southern Europe. It nests on a stick platform in reeds, laying 8–12 eggs, but hollow trees or old bird nests
are occasionally used for nesting.

Its habitat is freshwater lakes, paddy fields or reservoirs with plentiful vegetation, where this duck feeds mainly at night on
seeds and other parts of plants..

The Fulvous Whistling Duck is 48–53 cm long. It has a long grey bill, long head and longish legs, buff head and underparts,
the latter reddish-tinged on the flanks, a dark crown, and dark grey back and wings. The tail and wing patches are chestnut,
and there is a white crescent on the upper tail which is visible in flight.

All plumages are similar, except that juveniles have less contrasted flank and tail colouration.

This species is gregarious, and at favoured sites substantial flocks can form. As the name implies, these are noisy birds
with a clear whistling kee-wee-ooo call.

This duck are widespread, over more than 10,000,000 km². The global population is estimated to 1,300,000-1,500,000 ducks.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck,
Photo: Duncan Wright

Wandering Whistling-Duck,
Dendrocygna arcuata, No: Hetteplystreand

Hetteplystreand, Melbourne Zoo
Photo: Fir0002, flagstaffotos.com.au

The Wandering Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna arcuata, inhabit tropical and subtropical Australia,
the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

There are three subspecies:
Dendrocygna arcuata arcuata, Indonesia
Dendrocygna arcuata australis, Australia
Dendrocygna arcuata pygmaea, New Britain (Bismarck øygruppen)n

Formerly named Tree Ducks, the Wandering Whistling Duck have their new name because
of their loud whistling calls and the whistling noise their wings make during flight.

They have long necks and legs and look like a cross between a goose and a duck.
They have a strong head and neck with a darker crown and hindneck.
The breast contains black spotting and the feathers are mostly dark brown.

They range in size from 54–60 cm in height and weigh on average 750 grams.
They mainly feed on grasses, waterlillies, water plants and occasionally insects and aquatic vertebrae.

The Wandering Whistling Duck lives in deep lagoons, flooded grasslands or dams.
They enjoy the water and rarely leave the shore. They can swim and dive with ease.

Breeding occurs during the tropical wet season usually between December and May.
During this time six to fifteen eggs are laid in a nest not far from water and usually in high grass or a sheltered area.http://www.avianweb.com/wanderingwhistlingducks.html

Lesser Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, No: Småplystreand

Lesser Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. 2.2.2007
Photo: J.M.Garg

The Lesser Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, also known as Indian Whistling Duck, is a small whistling duck
which breeds in South Asia and southeast Asia. It may also be called the Lesser Whistling Teal (based on an older
classification), or the Tree Duck.

This is a largely resident species distributed unevenly from the Pakistan lower river valleys eastwards across most of
peninsular India, Nepal terai, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, south China,
to Vietnam. It is largely resident, apart from local movements (often induced by drought or floods), but Chinese birds
winter further south.

Covering up to 10 million km², it is estimated to have a global population of between two and twenty million individuals.

Habitat: still freshwater lakes, with plentiful vegetation, where this duck feeds on seeds and other vegetation.
Occasionally seeks refuge in the ocean just outside the surf area.

May be seen often perching on trees near water bodies, giving rise to the alternate name Tree Duck.

Lesser Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna javanica
Photo: coracii

This species has a long grey bill, long head and longish legs. It has a buff head, neck and underparts, and a darker crown.
The back and wings are darkish grey, and there are chestnut patches on the wings and tail. All plumages are similar.

This species is gregarious, and at favoured sites, such as Carambolin Lake in India, the flocks of a thousand or more
birds arriving at dawn are an impressive sight.

The call is a wheezy, whistling "seasick, seasick", call, uttered in flight. Roosts can be quite noisy.

It nests in tree holes, old nests of other birds, or on a stick platform near the ground, and lays 6-12 eggs.
Read more about the Lesser Whistling Duck in Thailand here.

White-faced Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna viduata, No: Maskeplystreand

© www.arthurgrosset.com

The White-faced Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna viduata, is a whistling duck which breeds in sub-Saharan Africa and
much of South America.

This species is gregarious, and at favoured sites, the flocks of a thousand or more birds arriving at dawn are an
impressive sight. As the name implies, these are noisy birds with a clear three-note whistling call.

© www.arthurgrosset.com

This species has a long grey bill, long head and longish legs. It has a white face and crown, and black rear head.
The back and wings are dark brown to black, and the underparts are black, although the flanks have fine white barring.
The neck is chestnut. All plumages are similar, except that juveniles have a much less contrasted head pattern.

White-faced Whistling Duck, Pantanal, Mato Grosse, Brazil, Dec.2006
© www.arthurgrosset.com

The habitat is still freshwater lakes or reservoirs, with plentiful vegetation, where this duck feeds on seeds and
other plant food.

This is an abundant species. It is largely resident, apart from local movements which can be 100 km or more.

It nests on a stick platform near the ground, and lays 8-12 eggs. Trees are occasionally used for nesting.
Text for this bird: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-faced_Whistling_Duck

White-faced Whistling Duck at Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre, England, June 2003
Photo: Adrian Pingstone

West Indian Whistling-Duck, Black-billed - Cuban- W-D, Dendrocygna arborea, No:Palmeplystreand

West Indian Whistling-Duck, ved Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre, England. Feb. 2004
Photo: Adrian Pingstone

The West Indian Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna arborea, is a whistling duck which breeds in the Caribbean.
Alternative names are Black-billed Whistling Duck and Cuban Whistling Duck.

The West Indian Whistling Duck is widely scattered throughout the West Indies including a large breeding population
in the Bahamas, and smaller numbers in Cuba, the Cayman Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and Jamaica.
It is largely sedentary, apart from local movements which can be 100 km or more. Nests have been reported in tree cavities,
on branches, in clumps of bromeliads, and on the ground under thatch palms and other dense bushes.

The usual clutch size is 10-16 eggs. It habitually perches in trees, which gives rise to its specific name.

The Royal Palm
1) Photo: Wilder Mendez 2) US Forest Service photo 3) Photo: Lezumbalaberenjena

The birds are mostly nocturnal and secretive, inhabiting wooded swamps and mangroves, where this duck roosts
and feeds on plant food including the fruit of the Royal Palm.

The West Indian Whistling Duck is the largest (48-58 cm) and darkest of its genus. It has a long black bill, long head and
longish legs. It has a pale foreneck and light brown face. The crown, back, breast and wings are dark brown to black,
and the rest of the underparts are white with heavy black markings.

All plumages are similar, except that juveniles are duller and have a less contrasted belly pattern.

West Indian Whistling-Duck,, Dendrocygna javanica, in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. 2.2.2007
Photo: J.M.Garg

The West Indian Whistling Duck has suffered extensive hunting for its eggs and for sport (Why is this called a 'sport'?).
Wetlands are a very limited habitat in the Caribbean, with continuing conversion for development and agriculture.
More than 50% of remaining wetlands are seriously degraded by the cutting of mangroves and swamp-forest, pollution
(especially over-use of pesticides1) and natural
catastrophes such as droughts and hurricanes. Predation is inadequately documented but may be a factor.

ARKive video - West Indian whistling-duck - overview
West Indian whistling-duck (Dendrocygna arborea
Jurgen Hoppe, Website: http://www.caribemotion.com

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna autumnalis, No:Rødnebbplystreand

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Dendrocygna autumnalis discolor
It is easily identified with its red bill and legs, grey head, brown neck and back and black belly.
The subspecies Dendrocygna autumnalis discolor which is seen on this photo differs from the nominate subspecies
in having a grey breast band between the brown neck and the black belly.
Flocks do not mix with viduata or other ducks" but as can be seen in this photo, small groups do
mix with White-faced Whistling-ducks.

© www.arthurgrosset.com

The Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna autumnalis, formerly also called Black-bellied Tree Duck, is a whistling
duck that breeds from the southernmost United States and tropical Central to south-central South America.
In the USA, it can be found year-round in parts of southeast Texas, and seasonally in southeast Arizona, and
Louisiana's Gulf Coast. It is a rare breeder in such disparate locations as Florida, Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina.

It is widely known as pijije (also pixixi or pichichi), chiriría or sirirí in Latin America, though this can also refer to other
whistling-ducks and a qualifyer such as ala blanca or aliblanco ("white-winged") is usually added to signify this species.
In Mexico, it is also called pato maízal ("cornfield duck") due to its habit of visiting such fields after harvest.
And since it is one of only two whistling-duck species native to North America, it is occasionally just known as the
"whistling duck" in the southern USA.

The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is an unusual species among North American waterfowl. With its long legs, peculiar
appearance and odd habits, it was described by one early American ornithologist[who?] as "most un-duck-like".
Its numbers are increasing in North America.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Pantanal, Mato Grosse, Brazil, Dec.2006
© www.arthurgrosset.com

The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is 48–53 cm long. It has a long red bill, long head and longish legs, pale grey head and
mostly grey-brown plumage. The belly and tail are black, and the body plumage, back of the neck and cap are a rich
chestnut brown. The face and upper neck are grey, and they sport a thin but distinct white eye-ring.

The extensive white in the wings is obvious in flight, less so on the ground; it is formed by the secondary remiges while
the primaries are black; the wing-coverts are brown. Males and females look alike; juveniles are similar but have a grey
bill and less contrasting belly.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Aguas de São Paulo, Brazil, Dec. 2006
© www.arthurgrosset.com

Due to its unique appearance, this species is almost unmistakable. With an upright stance, long pink legs, and long neck,
adult Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are unlikely to be confused with any other bird within their range.
The wing bar is in fact unique among living whistling ducks. But when on the ground, it may be hard to discern
or look like the light flanks present in many of these waterfowl.

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Birding Center, Port Aransas, Texas
Photo: Alan D. Wilson

The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is a common but wary species. It is highly gregarious, forming large flocks when not
breeding, and is largely resident apart from local movements. It usually nests in hollow trees. The habitat is quiet shallow
freshwater ponds, lakes, and marshes, cultivated land or reservoirs with plentiful vegetation, where this duck feeds mainly
at night on seeds and other plant food. Tree-lined bodies of water are of particular value and as the old common name
suggests, they are quite fond of perching in trees. This species can also be seen "loafing" (doing nothing in particular
except hanging around and socializing) in flocks on golf courses and other grassy areas near suitable waterways.

Feeding often occurs nocturnally, but they can be encountered eating at any hour of the day.
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks ingest a wide variety of plant material, but also consume arthropods and aquatic
invertebrates when available. They often feed on submerged vegetation by wading through shallow water.
As its Mexican name implies, it is commonly seen gleaning recently-harvested fields for leftover seed and invertebrates
brought up by the harvesters disturbing the soil.

The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is mainly non-migratory.


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