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Fulvous Whistling-Duck

Dendrocygna bicolor

Length: 20 inches Wingspan: 36 inches Seasonality: Rare Visitor
ID Keys: Fulvous-brown overall, dark back with brown splotches, white stripe on flanks.

Fulvous Whistling Duck - Dendrocygna bicolorThe Fulvous Whistling-Duck is a widespread duck of Africa, Asia, and much of the tropical Americas.  Normally found in the extreme southern U.S., wandering individuals or small groups may occasionally be seen in nearly any location in the United States.

Habitat: Shallow freshwater or brackish marshes, flooded fields and pastures, irrigated rice fields. 

Diet: Mostly seeds of aquatic plants and grasses, waste grain in farm fields.  Particularly fond of rice.

Behavior: Forages both on land and in water.  In the water, swims on the surface and acts like a dabbling duck, grabbing food near the surface, or sometimes tipping downward and sticking its head underwater.  On land, they most often forage in wet fields.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: High-pitched pe-wheeah, usually when in flight.

Migration: Populations along the Gulf Coast often migrate south to Mexico in the fall.  Groups often stray from usual breeding areas, resulting breeding area expansion.  Erratic wandering may bring small groups to nearly any location in the U.S., and even into southern Canada.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Fulvous Whistling-duck sightings

Similar Species: Fairly distinctive.   Same structurally as Black-bellied Whistling Duck.

Status: Populations have decreased in the Southwest, and have increased in the Southeast.  Rice farmers in the Southeast regard the Fulvous Whistling Duck as a "pest" species which damages rice crops.  Population shifts may be due to rice-farming practices.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Fulvous Whistling Duck

2) WhatBird - Fulvous Whistling Duck

3) Audubon Guide - Fulvous Whistling Duck

4) Fulvous Whistling Duck

Photo Information: Photo courtesy of Nicole Bouglouan


Click on the range map below for a higher-resolution view
Fulvous Whistling Duck - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare visitor in South Dakota, with only a handful of recorded sightings.

Additional Fulvous Whistling Duck Photos (coming soon!)