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West Indian Whistling Duck

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Latin: Dendrocygna arborea
Average length: 48-56 cm
Average weight: 1150 g

Description: The West Indian whistling duck is a large goose-like duck with relatively long legs that extend beyond the tail in flight. The upperparts are mostly brown with pale edgings to the feathers; the rump and tail are blackish. The chest is more or less rufescent, with the posterior underparts white, spotted with black, particularly on the sides. The bill is black and legs are greenish. West Indian whistling ducks are considered to be less vocal than most other whistling ducks. Their vocalization is a shrilly whistled "chiriria."


Breeding: The West Indian whistling duck lives year round in wooded swamps. In the Greater Antilles they prefer a cluster of palm fronds, a clump of bromeliads or a tree cavity for their nesting site. Occasionally they may nest in low bushes. The number of eggs ranges from 4-16, and they are a milky white color.


Migrating and Wintering: The West Indian whistling duck is endemic to the Caribbean, and formerly widely distributed but now extinct in many parts of its range, decreasing almost everywhere. The West Indian whistling duck is still locally common in Cuba and uncommon in the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and the Cayman Islands.


Population: The West Indian whistling duck population is estimated to have less than 10,000 to 25,000 individuals and is on the decline (Rose and Scott, 1994). It is endangered in much of its range due to hunting, habitat destruction and predation by the introduced mongoose.


Food habits: West Indian whistling ducks usually feed nocturnally in stands of royal palm and agricultural fields.


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