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Species Guide
A photo of a White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata)
White-faced Whistling Duck

White-faced Whistling Duck

Dendrocygna viduata

The White-faced Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna viduata, is a distinctive species with a long grey bill, elongated head, and relatively long legs. Its plumage is characterized by a black neck and head contrasted with a white face, which can vary in extent regionally. The back and wings are cloaked in dark brown to black, while the underparts are black with fine white barring on the flanks. A chestnut neck completes the ensemble. Both sexes are similarly attired, and juveniles resemble adults but with less pronounced head markings.

Identification Tips

When identifying the White-faced Whistling Duck, look for the stark white face against a black head and neck. The species also has a distinctive three-note whistling call that can aid in identification even when the bird is not in sight.


These ducks favor freshwater lakes and reservoirs rich in vegetation, where they can forage for seeds and other plant-based food.


The White-faced Whistling Duck has a curious distribution, found in both sub-Saharan Africa and much of South America. It is thought that human activity may have contributed to their spread across these continents.


This species is known for its sociable nature, often forming large flocks. It is mostly sedentary, though it may undertake local movements of over 100 kilometers in response to environmental conditions.


Breeding sites are typically ground depressions or reed beds. Both sexes incubate the clutch of 6 to 12 eggs, which hatch after 26 to 28 days. The ducklings, with dark down above and yellow below, are tended by both parents and are usually concealed in reeds. They fledge at about two months of age.

Conservation Status

The White-faced Whistling Duck is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN and is protected under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

Similar Species

While the White-faced Whistling Duck is quite distinctive, it could potentially be confused with other whistling ducks. However, its unique facial coloration and call usually make it easily distinguishable.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the White-faced Whistling Duck primarily consists of seeds and other plant materials, which they forage from their aquatic habitats.

In the gentle light of dawn, one might observe the White-faced Whistling Duck, a creature of both beauty and intrigue, as it congregates in flocks that paint the sky with their synchronized flights and fills the air with their melodious calls.

White-faced Whistling Duck Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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White-faced Whistling Duck Fun Facts

Did you know?
White-faced Whistling Ducks are named after their high-pitched whistling call.

White-faced Whistling Ducks on Birda


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