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Fulvous Whistling-Duck

These birds are known for their distinctive whistling calls and their reddish-brown plumage.

With a distribution extending to several continents, the Fulvous Whistling-Duck is nonetheless limited to a few of the southernmost portions of the U.S. Some of these populations are migratory, with movements taking place at night. Fulvous Whistling-Duck pairs are thought to mate for life.

Much remains to be learned about the breeding ecology of the Fulvous Whistling-Duck. While the breeding season is long and it is expected that failed nests are replaced, this needs confirmation. While year-old birds are capable of breeding, it is likewise not known how frequently they actually do breed.

Distinctive species with long neck. Not easily confused with other species.


The Fulvous Whistling-Duck is a tall, long-necked duck with a black bill, reddish-brown underparts, a blackish back with tawny-edged feathers, and a dark stripe along the hindneck. Length: 19 in.  Wingspan: 26 in.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck

Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck

Gray legs. Dark wings. Reddish belly, pale ring on the neck.  Photograph © Greg Lavaty

Fulvous Whistling-Duck

Dark wings with rusty “shoulder.”  Dark mark on back of the head/neck.  Photograph © Greg Lavaty.


Hindneck stripe usually continuous.

Seasonal change in appearance



Similar to adults but paler.


Freshwater marshes.



Fulvous Whistling-Duck

Photograph © Greg Lavaty.


Forages by dabbling and occasionally by diving, as well as grazing on land.


Resident in southern Florida and Texas, and a breeder along most of the Texas and Louisiana coastline and very locally in southern California.  It is also resident south to South America, and occurs in Africa and Asia.

Fun Facts

Few ducks are as widespread worldwide as Fulvous Whistling-Ducks.

Fulvous Whistling-Ducks are not territorial, and defend only the nest and a small feeding zone.


A squealing, two-syllable whistle is given.


Similar Species

Unique appearance.

The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, as the name implies, has a black belly, orange bill and large white wing patch.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. Photograph © Alan Wilson



The nest is a bowl of grass and aquatic vegetation placed on the ground.

Number: 12-14.
Color: Whitish.

Incubation and fledging:
– Young hatch at 24-26 days.
– Young fledge (leave the nest) shortly after hatching but remain with the adults for some time.



About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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