- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
Whistling-ducks are a distinctive group of about 8 species of brightly colored, oddly proportioned waterfowl. The Fulvous Whistling-Duck is a mix of rich caramel-brown and black, a long-legged and long-necked creature found in warm freshwater marshes across the Americas, Africa, and Asia. In the United States they are rarely found far from rice fields, which provide both food and an optimal water depth for these gangly birds to forage in. They often roost in trees and were once known as “tree ducks.”More ID Info
Find This Bird
In the United States, look for Fulvous Whistling-Ducks in and around rice fields in central Florida (year-round) or coastal Texas and Louisiana (spring through fall). In addition to rice fields, they may occur at crayfish farms and flooded pastures. They may flock with more numerous Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, which have a gray head and bright pink bill, not a dark bill. Scan for these long-necked birds looking up out of marsh vegetation or watch at dusk and dawn for flocks flying between roosts and foraging areas.
- Suirirí bicolor (Spanish)
- Dendrocygne fauve (French)
- Cool Facts
- Fulvous Whistling-Ducks sometimes graze vegetation, but unlike Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, much of their foraging is by filter-feeding—straining fine mud for seeds and invertebrates, as Northern Shovelers do. Adaptations for this type of feeding include well-developed lamellae (comb-like structures) in the bill, plus a broader bill tip that has a strong “nail.”
- In some ways, whistling-ducks act more like swans than ducks. The male helps take care of the offspring and mated pairs stay 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.
- Fulvous Whistling-Ducks started breeding in the United States only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, following the start of rice cultivation.
- The oldest recorded Fulvous Whistling-Duck was a male, and at least 11 years, 2 months old when a hunter shot him in Cuba in 2004. He had been banded in Florida in 1993.