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Duck, White-Faced Whistling

Whistling Duck at the LA Zoo (Photo Credit: Tad Motoyama)

Scientific Name: Dendrocygna viduata

These birds are sometimes called white-faced tree ducks because of their habit of occasionally perching in trees.

White-faced whistling ducks belong to a group of birds known as waterfowl, birds that are strong swimmers with medium to large bodies.

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White-faced whistling ducks are social birds that gather in large flocks, sometimes of over 1000 members. When it comes to breeding, though, they nest individually or in small groups.

White-faced whistling ducks are thought to be perennially monogamous, meaning that males and females will form pairs that stay together even when it is not breeding season. They build their nests on stick platforms or on dense vegetation close to the ground. Both parents share the parenting responsibilities of incubating the eggs, protecting the nest and guarding the young. The ducklings show a high degree of independence from the beginning—they can even feed themselves after the first day.

The white-faced whistling duck is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

This duck lives in open wetland areas like lakes, swamps, and marshes in tropical areas of northern South American, sub-Saharan Africa, and Madagascar.

The white-faced whistling duck mainly eats vegetation such as grass, seeds and rice. It will also eat small invertebrates that can be found in or near water, such as insects, mollusks and crustaceans.

This bird, named in part for its striking white face, is black or dark brown on its back and wings, with a chestnut neck, black rear head, and thin white barring on its sides. It has a long, grey bill, long legs and—of course—webbed feet! As the name suggests, these birds are noisy: their call is a high-pitched, three-note whistle that sounds something like “whee-whee-whee” and is very distinctive from a typical duck call.

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