Conservation Education and Science
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White-faced Whistling Duck
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Dendrocygna viduata
ORDER: Anseriformes
FAMILY: Anatidae
RANGE: Africa, south of Sahara, Madagascar and South America
HABITAT: marshes, swamps, lagoons and rivers
DIET: seeds, snails, larvae and insects

The white-faced whistling duck has dark plumage contrasting with its white head, making it an easy duck to identify. The bird is slender with long legs and neck and displays an erect stance when on land. Both sexes look similar; the juveniles are duller in color, with grayish heads.

Whistling ducks were named for their unique whistling calls. The white-faced whistling duck is quite vocal with a clear three-note whistle tsri-tsri-trseeo. The anxiety call from a breeding bird is a single whee.

Being aquatic and terrestrial by nature, these birds spend much of the day in large flocks by open water, often in the company of fulvous whistling ducks. Pairs of the birds often face one another and indulge in mutual preening. The birds have broad wings and are powerful fliers, usually flying to feeding grounds at night. Some feeding occurs during the day, especially during winter.

Breeding season varies according to location. The nest is usually located on the ground in tall grass, but sometimes may be in reedbeds and occasionally in the fork of a low waterside tree. Clutch size is usually nine-to-12 eggs, which are incubated for 28-to-30 days Parents have a strong pair bond and both help care for the young.