Fulvous Tree-Duck (Dendrocygna bicolor)

Fulvous Tree-Duck

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Dendrocygna bicolor | [authority] Vieillot, 1816 | [UK] Fulvous Tree-Duck | [FR] Dendrocygne fauve | [DE] Gelbbrust-Pfeifgans | [ES] Siriri Colorado (Arg), Suiriri Bicolor, Pijije Canelo (Cr), Chiriria Bicolor, Piche Amarillo (HN) | [NL] Rosse Fluiteend


Monotypic species


Whistling ducks comprise a group of species that are primarily of tropical and subtropical distribution. In common with the swans and true geese (which with them comprise the subfamily Anserinae), the included species have a reticulated tarsal surface pattern, lack sexual dimorphism in plumage, produce vocalizations that are similar or identical in both sexes, form relatively permanent pair bonds, and lack complex pair-forming behavior patterns. Unlike the geese and swans, whistling ducks have clear, often melodious whistling voices that are the basis for their group name. The alternative name, tree ducks, is far less appropriate, since few of the species regularly perch or nest in trees. All the species have relatively long legs and large feet that extend beyond the fairly short tail when the birds are in flight. They dive well, and some species obtain much of their food in this manner.

Physical charateristics

Tawny brown with a dark brown back and crown. Broken horizontal white slashes on each side of the body and white feathers under the tail. Bill, legs and feet are grey.

Listen to the sound of Fulvous Tree-Duck

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/ANSERIFORMES/Anatidae/sounds/Fulvous Tree-Duck.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 85 cm wingspan max.: 93 cm
size min.: 48 cm size max.: 53 cm
incubation min.: 24 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 61 days fledging max.: 26 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 6  
      eggs max.: 16  


North America, Latin Americatin America, Africa, Oriental Region : widespread


This whistling-duck shows preference for lakes, swamps and fields covered with water. It is found in freshwater and brackish water. It is common in dense vegetation, mainly low bush rather than trees.


Fulvous tree ducks breed readily and almost year-round in southern climates. As with most waterfowl, they perform complex mating displays and vocalizations. The pair bond lasts only for the season. The nests are made in dense marsh vegetation trampled down to form a platform above the water. Some nests are found in tree cavities close to the ground. The female will ?dump? eggs into the nest of other fulvous ducks and sometimes into other duck species’ nests as well. Hopefully, another mother will raise her ducklings thus increasing the number of offspring she will have.
Both the male and female incubate the eggs, and, once they hatch, the male will assist with protection of the young. The young leave the nest soon after hatching and hide amongst dense vegetation.
Nesting is done in well spread out colonies, once a year. In great part of its distribution it nests on the ground, among the different types of vegetation. Shows preference for the fields covered with water, such as the rice plantations. Reported to also nest in holes in trees, although there is dough. The nest is cup-shaped built with grass. Laying starts before the nest is finished. Down is not added.
A full clutch is six to sixteen eggs very light cream in color. Once laying starts an egg is deposited every day. Not rare are the clutches where more than one female has participated. A clutch with 62 eggs is recorded. These excessive clutches are suspected to be where females lay because they have to, but the clutch itself is not incubated nor taken care of. The eggs of this whistling-duck have also been found in some duck’s nests.
Incubation is done by both parents and it takes from 24 to 26 days. Both parents also take care of the chicks. The young are able to fly at 63 days after hatching. They breed at one year of age. It is possible that the pair mates for life or at least the bond appears to be very strong.

Feeding habits

The Fulvous Tree-Duck shows a preference for rice. It also eats seed of other plants, aquatic vegetation and aquatic insects. Eats during the day and during the night.

Video Fulvous Tree-Duck


copyright: J. del Hoyo


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The Fulvous Whistling-Duck is natural to the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Its distribution in North America extends as far north as the southern coastal regions of the United States; including the coasts of California, the state of Texas, the coasts of Louisiana and there is a population in the state of Florida. In Mexico it is found on the coastal zones on both oceans. During summer to the north some reach southern Canada and to the south some make it to Central America going as far as Nicaragua. It is also native in the Caribbean islands and the Bahamas.
In South America this whistling-duck is found to the north of the continent. On the western slope of the Andes it is present as far south as Peru. On the eastern slope it is found from the coast of southern Brazil to Paraguay and Bolivia, and south to northern Argentina. It is absent in the Amazon Basin. During summer some go as far north as Panama. At this time of the year some make it to central Chile and central Argentina.
In Africa it is natural in the equatorial region immediately south of the Sahara Desert. Continues south on the eastern part of the continent. It is also present on Madagascar.
In Asia it is native to India, including the island of Sri Lanka. Its presence continues to Myanmar.
There is a population in Hawaii.
Fulvous Tree-Duck status Least Concern


Some populations are sedentary, other appear to displace to spend winter in different locations from the ones where they nest, but not too far. The ones nesting in Texas and Louisiana spend the winter in the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in Mexico.

Distribution map

Fulvous Tree-Duck distribution range map


Title Evolution ih the Breeding Habits of the Fulvous Tree Duck.
Author(s): F. S. BARNHART
Abstract: Mr. Wanzer states that Dendrocygna fulva was first..[more]..
Source: Condor 8, 1901

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