White-faced Tree-Duck (Dendrocygna viduata)

White-faced Tree-Duck

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Dendrocygna viduata | [authority] Linnaeus, 1766 | [UK] White-faced Tree-Duck | [FR] Dendrocygne veuf | [DE] Witwen-Pfeifgans | [ES] Siriri Pampa (Arg), Suiriri Cariblanco, Pijije Cariblanco (Cr) | [NL] Witwangfluiteend


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

White-faced Tree-Duck has a long neck, long legs and the typical stand up appearance of whistling ducks. Adult has white face, throat and forehead, from half crown, crossing behind the eyes to the throat, forming a beautiful contrast with black head back and upper nape. A chestnut wash goes down to the front, until the bottom and the hind neck, and on upper chest. Lower chest, belly and tail are black. Flanks are finely barred with black and white waves. Upperparts are dark brown, with wings bordered with buff, and particularly scapulars. Wings are dark brown.
Bill is black with pale band at tip. Eyes are dark brown. Legs are grey. Young is duller. Face and throat are grey or pale buff, chest is relatively dull chestnut.
Chicks have dark olive-brown upperparts with large yellow patches on wings and back. Underparts are yellow. Face is streaked. Bill and legs are grey.

Listen to the sound of White-faced Tree-Duck

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

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 86 cm wingspan max.: 94 cm
size min.: 45 cm size max.: 53 cm
incubation min.: 26 days incubation max.: 30 days
fledging min.: 45 days fledging max.: 30 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 6  
      eggs max.: 12  


Africa, South America : widespread


Freshwater lakes, rivers, swamps and fields covered with water. Can be seen in brackish water marshes and river deltas. Shows preference for water deposits, large and small, with shallow shores or with high emerging aquatic vegetation. In South America it is seen where there are trees, although it is more usual in places where vegetation is not so high.


The breeding season starts at different time according to location and the rainy season. The nest is done on the ground among the tall grass, on tree branches which are not too high, and there are reports of nesting in holes in the trees. The nest is made out of grass, no down is added.
The usual clutch is six to twelve eggs, although some nests are recorded to have as many as thirty eggs. Incubation is done by both parents and takes from 26 to 30 days. At hatching the chicks are dark olive with yellow marks. Both parents take care of the young.

Feeding habits

The diet is made up of plants, including seeds. It is complemented with invertebrates.

Video White-faced Tree-Duck


copyright: youtube


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). The population trend appears to be increasing, 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 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 White-faced Tre-Duck is natural to the Americas and Africa. In the New World the northern limits of its distribution reaches Costa Rica, perhaps Nicaragua. Continues south to cover much of Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, the Amazon Basin extending to the center of Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and northern Argentina (south of Buenos Aires). On the western side of the Andes it includes Ecuador, the southern limits could be in Peru. It has been recorded in Chile. Trinidad is also included in this distribution. Has been seen with some frequency in some of the Antilles: Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
In Africa this whistling-duck is found in the equatorial regions south of the Sahara desert and in the eastern part of the continent, including Madagascar and Mauritania.
It is recorded in Spain and the Canary Islands. Suspected to be vagrant or escaped individuals from ornamental waterfowl collections.
White-faced Tree-Duck status Least Concern


This is a sedentary species, not migratory. Movements and displacements are according to the rains and scarcity of food.

Distribution map

White-faced Tree-Duck distribution range map

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