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White-Faced Whistling Duck

Dendrocygna viduata

Henry Vilas Zoo White Faced Whistling Duck
About

This long-legged duck has a distinct white face and neck patch that is different from the rest of its otherwise brown and black feathered body. Both the male and female whistling duck are similar in appearance, with the offspring typically having a grey, white or ash-grey colored face, throat, and bottom.

Habitat: The white-faced whistling duck is found in tropical parts of Central and South America, and Africa. They occupy a variety of freshwater habitats, including lakes, swamps, large rivers, flood-plains and some artificial habitats, such as rice fields and sewage farms.

Diet: Their diet consists mostly of grass, seeds, mollusks, and other plant-based foods in their surrounding habitat.

Family Life: During their breeding season, the white-faced ducks form colonies and create nests in long grass or reedbeds using vegetation in the surrounding area. They typically lay four to twelve eggs, which are then incubated for around one month. The chicks fledge, develop wing feathers for flight, eight weeks after hatching. During their incubation period, the duck is especially susceptible to predation, which forces them to seek shelter in thick, grassy areas.

Henry Vilas Zoo White Faced Whistling Duck
Conservation

The white-faced whistling duck’s endangered status is classified as least concern.

Henry Vilas Zoo Least Concern Graphic
Henry Vilas Zoo White Faced Whistling Duck
Threats
  • This species of duck is not under any immediate threat; however, they are susceptible to avian botulism and avian influenza, meaning they may become threatened by future outbreaks of these diseases.
  • In parts of its African range, the white-faced whistling duck is hunted for local consumption and trade.
Henry Vilas Zoo White Faced Whistling Duck
Fun Facts
  • They really do whistle! Their name comes from their distinctive look and high-pitched whistling calls.
  • Ducks in tress? It’s not too often you see a duck nesting in a tree, however, the whistling duck has a habit of perching on tree branches.
  • These ducks have broad wings and though they’re not fast, they’re highly maneuverable in the air.
Henry Vilas Zoo White Faced Whistling Duck
Quick Facts

CLASS: Aves (bird)
ORDER: Anseriformes (duck, geese, swans, and relatives)
FAMILY: Anatidae (duck, geese, and swans)
GENUS: Dendrocygna (whistling-ducks)
SPECIES: Dendrocygna viduata (white-faced whistling-ducks)
LIFE SPAN: 10 years (wild) / 12 years (zoo)
SIZE: 1.2 – 1.5 feet (36 – 45 cm)
WEIGHT: 1.1 – 1.8 pounds (0.5 – 0.8 g)

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