Fulvous Whistling Duck Facts

Enter into the land of waterfowls with fulvous whistling duck facts

The common name of this bird comes from the hoarse whistling sound it produces and its coloring. The word 'fulvous' means 'tawny'. In size, a fulvous whistling duck is large and has odd proportions due to its long legs, long neck, and an even longer bill. It lies somewhere between a crow and a goose in height. The eight species of whistling ducks are closer relatives of geese and swans than they are of true ducks. This duck is one of the least studied waterfowls and is hunted in many parts of the world such as Mexico and Texas. Their presence in an area is sensitive to the water levels and they are diurnal-nocturnal by nature. Out of the eight species, the black-bellied whistling and the fulvous are the only ones found in the United States.

Like reading about this duck? Let's move on! If you like reading this article, you may also like reading on cinnamon teal and crested duck.

Fulvous whistling duck

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Molluscs, aquatic worms, insects, invertebrates, aquatic plants, seeds, and shoots

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

Males: 19.2-33.8 oz (545-958 g) Females: 21.0-34.0 oz (595-964 g)

How long are they?

Males: 17.3-20.1 in (44-51 cm)

Females: 16.5-19.3 in (42-49 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Caramel-brown and black plumage, gray bill, and gray legs

Skin Type


What are their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Warm freshwater marshes, saltwater marshes, flooded savannas, coastal lagoons, and mangrove swamps


North America, South America, Sub-saharan Africa, and the Indian Subcontinent





Scientific Name

Dendrocygna bicolor





Fulvous Whistling Duck Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a fulvous whistling duck?

This bird species from North America belongs to phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, order Anseriformes, family Anatidae, and species D.bicolor.

What class of animal does a fulvous whistling duck belong to?

A fulvous whistling duck (Dendrocygna bicolor) belongs to the class Aves, meaning that it is a bird.

How many fulvous whistling duck are there in the world?

The global breeding population is estimated to be around 1.3 million to 1.5 million by the IUCN.

Where does a fulvous whistling duck live?

This duck species from North America is found in warm freshwater marshes, saltwater marshes, flooded savannas, coastal lagoons, and slow-flowing streams, mangrove swamps (in winter), and wet rice fields. It prefers residing in wetlands surrounded by tall grasses and other types of vegetation. Even when resting, these birds often stay on the water.

What is a fulvous whistling duck's habitat?

The whistling duck's (Dendrocygna bicolor) habitat includes the tropical zones of both the western and eastern hemispheres. It is a resident of North America, South America, Sub-saharan Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. Their habitat also includes the Caribbean islands. In the United States, they are found in abundance in Louisiana and Texas.

Who do fulvous whistling ducks live with?

These birds are social by nature and prefer to flock together in small family groups. When they are not breeding, they prefer to mix with other kinds of whistling ducks like the black-bellied ones.

How long does a fulvous whistling duck live?

A fulvous whistling duck (Dendrocygna bicolor) can live for a maximum of six and a half years.

How do they reproduce?

The mating of swans is a legend and just like swans, these birds remain mated for many years. Also just like swans and geese, bothparents look after the ducklings. In the breeding season, a breeding pair nests around the vicinity of 12 to 24 other pairs. The nests are built with plant-based materials, float on water, and are concealed from potential predators. In India, nesting occurs in natural hollows or tree crotches as well. These birds mutually dip their heads as a courtship display before mating and after copulation, a short dance of raising their bodies parallel while treading water is performed.

The nesting female lays clutches containing eight to 12 eggs on average. The eggs are white to buffy white. Carried out by both parents, incubation of the eggs lasts for 24 to 26 days. The ducklings are looked after from the moment they hatch and up to a period of two months until they fledge. These birds, belonging to the Anatidae family, become sexually mature after one year.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Conservation of Nature(IUCN), the conservation status of these birds falls under the Least Concern category. Also, the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds(AEWA) applies to these birds. Clearly, the population of this duck species is not in any immediate danger.

Fulvous Whistling Duck Fun Facts

What do fulvous whistling ducks look like?

A fulvous whistling duck (Dendrocygna bicolor) has a cinnamon brown feather coat with black stripes on its back. Just like geese and swans, the plumage of a male and a female is very similar. The neck of a male contains more white than that of a female's which has more black. The tail is black and the rump is white. Their flanks have long white stripes. They only have one molt whereas true ducks have two. A young bird is somewhat different in comparison to adult fulvous whistling ducks.

The beautiful waterfowl in all its glory.

How do they communicate?

These birds make calls with a whistling sound of 'Kit-tee'. They are very vocal while feeding and in flight. When flying in flocks, they produce whistling calls constantly.

How big is a fulvous whistling duck?

A male whistling duck (Dendrocygna bicolor) is  17.3-20.1 in (44-51 cm) in length while a female is 16.5-19.3 in (42-49 cm). This bird lies somewhere between a northern shoveler and Canada goose in size. The mallard is similar in size to this bird but has a shorter neck and legs.

How fast can a fulvous whistling duck fly?

When in flight these birds can travel pretty fast. When chased, their flight speed increases further.

How much does a fulvous whistling duck weigh?

A male whistling duck (Dendrocygna bicolor) weighs about 19.2-33.8 oz (545-958 g) and a female weighs about 21.0-34.0 oz (595-964 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no different names for male and female fulvous whistling ducks.

What would you call a baby fulvous whistling duck?

A young whistling duck (Dendrocygna bicolor) is called a duckling, just like other baby ducks.

What do they eat?

Fulvous whistling ducks, belonging to the order Anseriformes, are herbivores. They feed mostly upon aquatic plant material like seeds, fruits, roots, shoots, buds, and bulbs. Occasionally, they are found to feast upon small aquatic insects. The intake of protein is mostly done by females while laying eggs. They dabble at the surface for vegetation and other foods. Most of the feeding is done in the early hours of the morning just after dawn and in the hours just before sunset. Wandering and foraging for seeds and other edible vegetation in flooded rice fields have also been noted in this species of birds.

Are they dangerous?

Fulvous whistling ducks of order Anseriformes and family Anatidae form mixed flocks with black-bellied whistling ducks but they may turn aggressive when threatened. They have been known to bite and  flap their wings vigorously when in conflict.

Would they make a good pet?

This species of bird is easily domesticated and they are quite tame even in the wild.

Did you know...

In the past, fulvous whistling ducks were known as fulvous tree ducks.

Fulvous whistling ducks (Dendrocygna bicolor) form a superspecies with wandering whistling ducks.

Whistling ducks are edible and taste similar to other ducks. The texture of its meat is similar to beef and is light tasting. Mexican whistling ducks can also be eaten.

This species of bird is also known as Suirirí bicolor in Spanish and Dendrocygne fauve in French.

These birds from Texas migrate southward towards Mexico in the winter.

What do baby whistling ducks eat?

Young birds prefer invertebrates like earthworms, midges, snails, water beetles, dragonfly larvae, and mollusks. They also feed on the seeds of aquatic (e.g. freshwater) plants like shama grass.

Where are whistling ducks from?

This geese-like species of birds are found in four continents of the world and are aptly named the duck of the world.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds  including red finch or Cape May warbler.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our wood duck coloring pages.



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