Plumed Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna eytoni)

Plumed Whistling Duck

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Dendrocygna eytoni | [authority] Eyton, 1838 | [UK] Plumed Whistling Duck | [FR] Dendrocygne d’Eyton | [DE] Gelbfuss-Pfeifgans | [ES] Suiriri Australiano | [NL] Australische Fluiteend


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Dendrocygna eytoni AU Australia


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

It is a tall, long necked duck, with very prominent long lanceolate off-white plumes edged in black along the flanks. The face and foreneck are light, the crown and hind neck are pale brown and the brown feathers of the upper back are edged buff. The breast is pale chestnut, finely barred in black. The bill is mottled pink and grey and the legs and feet are pink.

Listen to the sound of Plumed Whistling Duck

[audio: Whistling Duck.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 75 cm wingspan max.: 90 cm
size min.: 40 cm size max.: 45 cm
incubation min.: 28 days incubation max.: 30 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 8  
      eggs max.: 14  


Australasia : Australia. The Plumed Whistling-Duck is mainly found in the northern and eastern tropics of Australia, it also extends southwards to New South Wales in the east but does not come far south of the Kimberleys in the west.


During the day the Plumed Whistling-Duck congregates in large numbers with other waterfowl, on the margins of lagoons, swamps and mangrove creeks, for preening and sleeping. At night they fly out, often quite long distances, to feed on grasslands.


Breeding for the Plumed Whistling-Duck begins in the tropical Wet Season. The nest is a scrape in the ground, sparsely lined with grass, usually under shelter of a bush or other vegetation. The Plumed Whistling-Duck is monogamous, and pair-bonds are probably life-long. Both sexes share the duties of incubate the 8-4 egg for about a month. The changeover taking place in the evening, and both parents brood the young.

Feeding habits

Plumed Whistling-Ducks graze on tropical grasses. They pluck grass (like a goose) and also take food from the water by dabbling from the surface.

Video Plumed Whistling Duck


copyright: Steve Dillinger


This species has a very 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). The population trend appears to be fluctuating, and hence the species does not 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.
Plumed Whistling Duck status Least Concern


In the breeding season the Plumed Whistling-Duck leaves the water and nests on the grassy plains.

Distribution map

Plumed Whistling Duck distribution range map

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