Spotted Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna guttata)

Spotted Whistling Duck

Copyright Harold Stiver

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Dendrocygna guttata | [authority] Schlegel, 1866 | [UK] Spotted Whistling Duck | [FR] Dendrocygne tachete | [DE] Tupfel-Pfeifgans | [ES] Suiriri Moteado | [NL] Gevlekte Fluiteend | [copyright picture] Harold Stiver


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Dendrocygna guttata OR, AU Philippines to New Guinea


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

Face and foreneck grey, black around eyes continuing forwards to bill, blackish line along crown and continuing down hindneck. Breast and flanks chestnut with small white spots on the breast, larger spots outlined in black on the flanks extending to mottled tail coverts. Abdomen and ventral area white. Upperparts and tail dark brown with rufous edges to feathers. Wings dark brown. Bill of male Reddish grey and eyes (Iris) dark brown. Juvenile has duller colouring, lacks white spotting on the breast and the flanks appear streaked rather than spotted.

Listen to the sound of Spotted Whistling Duck

[audio: Whistling Duck.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 43 cm size max.: 50 cm
incubation min.: 28 days incubation max.: 31 days
fledging min.: 45 days fledging max.: 50 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 7  
      eggs max.: 14  


Oriental Region, Australasia : Philippines to New Guinea. Its range is the Philippines south through central Indonesia to New Guinea. It has recently colonised Australia, with a small population now resident at Weipa on the western coast of Cape York Peninsula.


Found in lowlands, using the margins lakes, pools, marshes and freshwater swamps, preferably with grassy margins and scattered trees.


Breeding begins in September, at the start of the wet season. Yhe nest is built in in tall hollow trees, in or near the water. Approximately 11 eggs are laid which are incubated by both parents for 28-31 days. Young fledge after 45-50 days. This species forms strong, durable pair bonds which may extend for life.

Feeding habits

Gather on top of trees to fly to feeding sites, it is a primarily nocturnal species. They dabble on the water surface, filter the surface and dive. Diet consists mainly of grass seeds and small snails.

Video Spotted Whistling Duck


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


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 stable, 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 may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to 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.
Spotted Whistling Duck status Least Concern


Mainly sedentary, non-migratory.

Distribution map

Spotted Whistling Duck distribution range map

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