Whitefaced whistling duck

(Dendrocygna viduata)


Whitefaced whistling duck IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

A tree duck with a body-weight of up to 690 g.

The adult male has the front half of head and throat white. The remainder of head and neck are black with a white patch on the underside of the neck. Lower neck and wing shoulders are hestnut; the flanks barred black on white; the rest of underparts, underside of wings, rump and tail black; back and scapulars olive brown edged with golden buff. The iris is brown, the bill black, feet, toes and webs blue with black markings. The female is similar but the front of head and nthe eck spot are tinged with rust colour.

White-faced whistling ducks are rather quiet during the day, but loquacious at night while feeding. When swimming, they float higher than other whistling ducks with their heads held high.

The nests are usually on ground or in reeds over water, but occasionally tree hollows are used. 6 to 10 white eggs are laid, which are incubated by both, female and male, for 26 to 28 days.

Did you know?
that mutual preening is highly developed in white-faced whistling ducks? This is important for permanent pair bonding. Also male and female calls differ slightly and this may be a bonding mechanism too.


Class AVES
Suborder ANSERES
Name (Scientific) Dendrocygna viduata
Name (English) Whitefaced whistling duck
Name (French) Dendrocygne veuf
Name (German) Witwenente
Name (Spanish) Suirirí cariblanco
Local names Afrikaans: Nonnetjie-eend
siSwati: Lidada lemfula
CITES Status Appendix III (Danemark)
CMS Status Appendix II (as Anatidae spp.) Included in AEWA



Photo Copyright by
Vladimír Motyčka



Range Subsaharan Africa: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Congo Dem., Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, United Togo. Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe Indian Ocean islands: Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Réunion South and Central America and the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Martinique, Montserrat, Panama, Paraguay, Peru Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela, Virgin Islands, British, Virgin Islands, U.S.
Habitat Freshwater wetlands including rivers and lakes, bogs, marshes, swamps, fens and peatlands
Wild population The global population is estimated to be 1,400,000 to 2,600,000 individuals by Wetlands International (2002).
Zoo population 1217 reported to ISIS (2006).

In the Zoo

Whitefaced whistling duck


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 18 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The white-faced whistling duck is not a threatened species. Zoos keep them for educational purposes e.g. in themed African or South American exhibits, and as an ambassador species for wetland conservation.