White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata)

It is a conspicuous duck with a black-and-white head, reddish-brown breast, spotted sides. Same with its other whistling duck cousins, it resembles a goose due to its long neck and legs. It thrives in freshwater lakes, marshes, and rice fields, flocking in hundreds or thousands, quite spreading throughout sub-Saharan Africa and South America.

Read further to know more about the White-face Duck.

What is a White-faced Whistling Duck?

White-faced whistling duck (Dendrocygna viduata) is a gregarious species, occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and even some regions in Central America, and the Caribbean. They arrived in their preferred site at dawn in huge numbers, which provides a remarkable sight. As its names suggest, white-faced whistling ducks are noisy birds, known for their distinct three-note whistling call.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Anseriformes

Family: Anatidae

Genus: Dendrocygna

Species: D. viduata

White-faced Whistling DuckPhysical Description

White-faced whistling ducks are medium-sized birds, growing from 17 to 20 inches or 45 to 53 centimeters, and weighing from 660 to 685 grams. They have a white forehead, face, and throat, starting from half of their crowns, crossing behind their eyes up to their throat. It produces an elegant contrast with their blackish upper nape and back head.

A reddish-brown wash is observed on their front, down to the bottom, hindneck, and breast. These ducks’ lower chest, belly, and tails are all black. Sides are finely-spotted with black and white streaks. They have dark brown upperparts, while their wings are dark brown with buff edges.

White-faced whistling ducks’ bills are black, with a dull stripe at its tip. Their eyes are dark brown. Legs are grayish. Their juveniles tend to have a paler plumage, with grayish or buff face and throat while the breast is duller chestnut.

While they have long legs and neck like other tree ducks, they don’t perch in trees and prefer to stay in sandbanks, acting more like a swan or a goose than a normal duck.

Where can they be spotted?

White-faced whistling ducks thrive in wetlands and regions along rivers, streams, and lakes. They can also occur in swamps, marshes, dams, estuaries, floodplains, and sewage dams. These birds have an extensively broad range and can be found in South America, sub-Saharan Africa, and some populations in Centra America, Caribbean, and Madagascar.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the White-faced Whistling Duck

White-faced whistling ducks are medium-sized ducks, growing from 14 to 18 inches or 35 centimeters to 45 centimeters and weighing 453 to 907 grams.

Their diet revolves primarily on seeds, grasses, and aquatic invertebrates. These birds feed at night, diving underwater for food. During the day, they spend time roosting or sitting on the banks, or preening their feathers.

White-faced whistling ducks are known for their high-pitched, multisyllabic whistle calls, which are very different from other ducks’ sound. The calls differ slightly between the males and the females and are believed to be a form of bonding mechanism.

These birds are pretty gregarious, gathering in flocking from hundreds to thousands. They engage in seasonal migrations if there are changes in the availability of water and food. If there are no alterations with their food source and habitat, they tend to stay in the area.

White-faced whistling ducks’ breeding period usually occurs during the rainy season. They nest in pairs, groups, or colonies. Nests are built by making shallow depressions on the ground, lining it with long grass and reedbeds.

The female will lay around 6 to 12 eggs, which parents jointly incubate for about 28-30 days. After hatching, the chicks will fledge, develop their wing feathers, within eight weeks. They are pretty vulnerable to predation, which is why they seek refuge in dense, grassy vegetation.

White-faced whistling ducks are classified as least concern under the IUCN Red List. However, common threats to their population include hunting, diseases, and loss of habitat.



Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Chobe National Park

Linyanti Swamp

Makgadikgadi Pan

Mashatu Game Reserve

Okavango Delta

Moremi Game Reserve



Addo Elephant National Park

Cape Peninsula National Park

Hluhluwe Game Reserves

Kalahari Gemsbok National Park

Knysna Lagoon

Kruger National Park

Madikwe Game Reserve

St Lucia Wetlands


Caprivi Region


Etosha National Park

Namib-Naukluft National Park

Skeleton Coast



Lechwe Plains

Lower Zambezi

South Luangwa

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park




Lake Kariba

Mana Pools

Matobo Hills

Victoria Falls

White-face Duck
Exit mobile version