Lesser Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna javanica)

Lesser Whistling Duck

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Dendrocygna javanica | [authority] Horsfield, 1821 | [UK] Lesser Whistling Duck | [FR] Dendrocygne siffleur | [DE] Java-Pfeifgans | [ES] Suiriri de Java | [NL] Indische 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

Generally pale buff. Head, neck and breast pale buff with crown slightly darker grey-brown and throat whitish. Flanks and abdomen light rufous-cinnamon with creamy streaks, poorly defined, along the upper edge of the flank. Ventral region and undertail coverts whitish. Upperparts dark brown, greyer caudally, with golden-rufous feather margins. Rump blackish, uppertail coverts chestnut, tail brown. Wing dark brown with chestnut lesser wing-coverts. Juvenile is duller with upperparts feather fringes paler, underparts paler and less rufous. Dark brown eyes, surrounded by thin pale yellow ring; Bill dark grey.

Listen to the sound of Lesser Whistling Duck

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/ANSERIFORMES/Anatidae/sounds/Lesser Whistling Duck.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by David Edwards

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 38 cm size max.: 40 cm
incubation min.: 26 days incubation max.: 30 days
fledging min.: 45 days fledging max.: 50 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 7  
      eggs max.: 12  


Oriental Region : widespread. Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, SouthEast China, Taiwan, Indochina to Borneo, Sumatra, Java.


Small shallow waterbodies surrounded by trees (for roosting) and containing abundant marshy vegetation. Rarely seen on the ocean just outside the surf line.


Extended breeding season, peaking in the rainy season. The ducks form strong, probably permanent pair bonds. The nest is built on the ground in covering vegetation, in tree hollows, in low bushes and also using disused raptor, heron, crow, stork or cormorant nests. Clutch size is 7-12 eggs which are incubated by both parents for 26-30 days; young fledge after 45-50 days. Both adults tend to the young and are very caring. Breeds in loose colonies.

Feeding habits

Forage in small groups in dense emergent vegetation, and in rice paddies. Diet consists of grass, rice, seeds, waterweed shoots; also small invertebrates – freshwater snails, insects, and frogs.

Video Lesser Whistling Duck


copyright: Josep 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 very 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.
Lesser Whistling Duck status Least Concern


Local movements dependent on water availability, otherwise mostly sedentary except that the northern Chinese population moves south for the winter.

Distribution map

Lesser Whistling Duck distribution range map

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