These ducks live from Costa Rica southwards to northern Argentina and Uruguay. In Africa, they live south of the Sahara from Senegal to Ethiopia and to Southern Africa. They also live in Madagascar.
White-faced whistling ducks live in a variety of wetland areas. Their prefer bodies of freshwater in open areas. They sometimes live in very small bodies of open water.
Wild: These ducks are primarily night feeders, and the mainstay of their diet is vegetation such as grass, seeds and rice, as well as aquatic invertebrates. They are particularly fond of seeds and fruits of water lilies. White-faced whistling ducks obtain their food by dabbling and diving.
Zoo: Keepers feed them game bird chow, mealworms, grasses and romaine.
Life span in the wild not documented. A white-faced whistling duck lived nearly 12 years at Woodland Park Zoo.
These birds average 15-19 inches in length and weigh between 1 – 1 ½ pounds. Males are usually smaller than females. The name white-faced whistling duck comes from the bird’s white face and its characteristic three-note whistle. The bill is black, while the throat is white. The back of the head and neck are black. Legs and feet are gray. The lower neck, chest and back are rust colored, while the sides are narrowly barred black and white. They are long-legged and long-necked ducks. Predators include birds of prey and carnivores.
Behavior: White-faced whistling ducks are highly social birds that congregate in huge flocks. They rest on the banks during the day and preen themselves and each other, but they rarely perch. They feed at night, usually on the surface of the water, but they do have the ability to dive for food. They stand more erect than other ducks due to their long legs, making walking easier for these ducks than for others. Their broad wings allow them to be maneuverable fliers rather than fast ones.
The triple note “whee-whee-whee” call of the white-faced whistler is used as a contact call for birds in a variety of situations. It’s used during feeding, as a prelude to flight, during flight, and when settling in. If disturbed at rest, or when with ducklings, they will fly around repeating only a single “whee”.
Reproduction: The breeding season for white-faced whistling ducks varies, although they seem to prefer the wet seasons. They build their nests on the ground in tall grass, usually out of grass or reeds. Eggs are creamy white with a pinkish hue. Nestlings are greenish-black to olive-brown on the upper side, with cream-colored spots on the back. The underside is a pale yellow. Chicks fledge in about eight weeks
Did You Know?
White-faced whistling ducks sometimes gather in flocks numbering in the thousands.
•They are most vocal in the morning and evening, and use different whistles for different situations.
•They are sometimes called white-faced tree-ducks because they occasionally rest in trees.
•The white-faced whistling duck has an unusually large range compared to other birds
Where in the Zoo?
I can be found in the RainForest Aviary & Surrounding Exhibits at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.