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Fulvous Whistling Duck

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Latin: Dendrocygna bicolor
Average length: M 18", F 17.3"
Average weight: M 1.72 lbs., F 1.49 lbs.

Descriptions: Adult fulvous whistling ducks of both sexes have a rufous-brown crown and upper nape, which becomes blackish down the center of the hindneck. The sides of the head, neck, chest and belly are a rich rufous-buff, with the sides of the neck paler, almost whitish, with fine dark striations. The back is dark brown with chestnut feather fringes, and the rump is white. Ivory-edged side and flank feathers form a striking border between the sides and back. A distinctive white "V" separates the brownish-black tail from the dark-colored back. The bill, legs and feet are blue-gray and the iris is dark brown. They are vociferous both in flight and when feeding, uttering a two-note squealing whistle, "k-weeoo," and during disputes a harsh "kee."


Breeding: In North America, fulvous whistling ducks can be found breeding in southern California, southwestern Arizona, central and eastern Texas, the Gulf Coast of Louisiana to central Mexico and locally in Florida. Over most of its range in Texas and Louisiana, the fulvous whistling duck prefers to nest in rice fields on low contour levees or over shallow water among rice plants, cut grasses, Paspalum and cattails. Clutch size averages from 12-13 eggs and both male and female incubate and participate in brood rearing.


Migrating and Wintering: Most fulvous whistling ducks leave Louisiana and Texas and winter along the east coast of Mexico. The small numbers that breed in southern California and Arizona are assumed to winter along the west coast of Mexico. In the Neotropics they are widely distributed but are generally rather scarce from the northern Caribbean south to eastern Peru, eastern Bolivia and northern Argentina; vagrant to Chile (Scott and Carbonell, 1986).


Population: The fulvous whistling duck population is estimated to have greater than 1 million individuals (Rose and Scott, 1994).


Food habits: Fulvous whistling ducks commonly feed at night on waste grain (especially rice), seeds and structural plant material found in fields and shallow water.


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