- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.7. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: in Hawaiian Islands (Oahu); in North America in southern California, southwestern Arizona, central and eastern Texas, and Gulf Coast Louisiana south to central Mexico (to Nayarit, Jalisco, valley of Mexico, northern Veracruz); locally in southern Florida, the West Indies (Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Grand Bahama south to Barbados, Grenada, Tobago, and Trinidad), El Salvador, central Honduras, and northwestern Costa Rica; in South America from Colombia, northern Venezuela, and Guianas south, west of Andes, to northwestern Peru, and east of Andes to southern Bolivia, Paraguay, and northeastern Argentina; in Old World in East Africa, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, and southwestern Burma (AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: in Hawaiian Islands (Oahu), southern California and southern Arizona, Gulf Coast, and central to southern Florida south to Oaxaca, Tabasco, and Quintana Roo, and in the breeding range elsewhere in Neotropics, South America, and Old World (AOU 1998).
A medium-sized duck with long neck and legs.
Head, neck, chest and belly buffy to tawny-cinnamon.
Juvenile similar to adult.
Length: 51 cm
Weight: 710 grams
Catalog Number: USNM 135588
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): E. Mearns
Year Collected: 1894
Locality: Unlucky Lake, ca 2 mi N of Mexican Boundary At Monument 221, San Diego, California, United States, North America
- Type: Wetmore & Peters. March 20, 1922. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington. 35: 42.
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Shallow fresh and brackish waters, preferring marshes, lagoons, wet cultivated fields, and occasionally forest (AOU 1983). Closely associated with rice culture in some areas (e.g., Florida). Generally on ground or in water; seldom perches in trees. Nests on hummocks among reeds and marshy vegetation (AOU 1983), in areas between ponds and swamps, or on levees and dikes and on rafts a few inches or more above water in flooded fields (Harrison 1979). Commonly lays eggs in the nests of other fulvous whistling ducks, sometimes in nests of ruddy duck and redhead.
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Some breeders from Florida migrate to Cuba (Turnbull et al. 1989).
Comments: Eats grain (especially rice), seeds, and structural plant material; forages in fields and on or near the bottom in shallow water .
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300
Comments: Counts of 2820 birds from Lagunas de Topolobampo, Mexico; counts of 1000 birds not uncommon in South America; in Sahel, Africa, estimate about 100,000 birds; approximately 10,000 birds in January 1987 at Hail Haor, Bangladesh; up to 2300 counted on Lake Turkana, Kenya; record of 12,000 birds at Lake Chuali, Mozambique (Hoyo et al. 1992). Counts in United States unknown. Survey-wide relative abundance according to Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) for 1966-1996 is 1.68 birds per route (Sauer et al. 1997). In winter, Christmas Bird Count (CBC) shows 0.32 birds per 100 survey hours survey-wide for 1959-1988 (Sauer et al. 1996). In the U.S., the highest winter densities occur in eastern Florida and coastal Texas (Root 1988).
Life History and Behavior
No obvious courtship displays. Dabbles at and just below waterline. Makes shallow dives and tips-up. A filter-feeder, not a grazer.
Comments: Feeds mostly at night.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Clutch size usually is 12-14. Incubation, by both sexes, lasts about 28 days. Young are tended by both parents, first fly at 55-63 days.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Dendrocygna bicolor
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N4B,N4N : N4B: Apparently Secure - Breeding, N4N: Apparently Secure - Nonbreeding
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Has an extensive range. Recent population trends in U.S. are increasing or stable.
Other Considerations: Benefits from rice fields.
Global Short Term Trend: Unknown
Comments: Expanding in the Caribbean (Raffaele 1989). More recently, declining in south and west (Ehrlich et al. 1988, NGS 1999). Populations may fluctuate widely. Trends outside of U.S. not known.
Global Long Term Trend: Unknown
Comments: Population has expanded into southeastern U.S. after the mid-1800s as rice cultures spread in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. Became resident in south Florida in 1970s. Trends outside of U.S. not known.
Degree of Threat: C : Not very threatened throughout its range, communities often provide natural resources that when exploited alter the composition and structure over the short-term, or communities are self-protecting because they are unsuitable for other uses
Comments: PESTICIDES: Pesticide is a potential source of mortality. Formerly (1960s) negatively impacted by the use of the pesticide Aldrin in Louisiana ricefields. In 1984 and 1985, organochlorine and organophosphate were found in tissue samples from birds in Florida. Levels, however, were below those known to pose a threat to birds and there was no evidence of lethal impact (Turnbull et al. 1989).
Fulvous Whistling Duck
The Fulvous Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna bicolor), is a whistling duck that 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 48–53 cm (19–21 in) 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. As the name implies, these are noisy birds with a clear whistling kee-wee-ooo call.
Distribution and habitat
The Fulvous Whistling Duck has a very large range, being known from the Gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana, the Atlantic coast of Florida, Southern California and Hawaii. In South America it occurs as far south as Argentina. It also occurs in East Africa and in India. It is a common but wary species. It is largely resident but local migrations occur in Africa where it moves to new areas in search of new habitat. Its favoured habitat is fresh or brackish coastal marshes, rice paddies and agricultural fields.
This species is gregarious, and at favoured sites substantial flocks can form. It feeds on seeds and grain and also takes insects, snails and other invertebrates, often feeding at night. It nests on a stick platform in reeds or on the ground near water. A clutch of six to sixteen eggs is laid but sometimes other birds add their eggs to the nest. The ducklings are precocial and able to leave the nest soon after hatching but remain with the parents as a family group for some time.
The Fulvous Whistling Duck is listed as being of "Least Concern" by the IUCN as it is estimated to have a total population size of 1.3 to 1.5 million individuals. It is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Dendrocygna bicolor". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Christian Melgar (2003). "The Rise and Fall of the Fulvous Whistling-Duck in Hawai'i". Birding Hawaii. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
One of the most widespread species of waterfowl in the world, the Fulvous Whistling-Duck has a limited distribution in the southern United States. Its mostly seed-based diet makes it fond of rice-growing areas.
In some ways, whistling-ducks act more like swans than ducks. The male helps to take care of the offspring and a mated pair stays bonded for many years.
Pesticides applied to rice in the 1960s caused declines in Texas and Louisiana populations. Numbers have recovered and stabilized since then.
The Fulvous Whistling-Duck is a frequent nest parasite, laying eggs in other Fulvous Whistling-Duck nests, as well as the nests of other duck species. These other duck species often lay their eggs in Fulvous Whistling-Duck nests as well.
Unlike many other ducks which have elaborate courtship displays, whistling-ducks appear to have none.
Other than in agricultural habitats, the Fulvous Whistling-Duck nests only rarely in the United States. It started breeding in the United States only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, nesting in rice fields.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: May constitute a superspecies with D. arcuata (AOU 1998).