Beak of the Week – Fulvous Whistling-Duck

Fulvous Whistling-Duck
(Dendrocygna bicolor)
Family: Anatidae

The Fulvous Whistling-Duck can generally be found visiting the Houston area during the summer breeding season. They visit our area while most species of North American waterfowl are breeding further north, taking up residence in marshy ponds, irrigated fields, and coastal wetlands. While their regular migration may be rather well understood, seemingly errant flocks of Fulvous Whistling-Ducks have been known to stray hundreds of miles from their usual range, showing up in places as far as the Dakotas, Canada and Hawaii. These wandering flocks may stay for only a few days, or they may remain in their new home long enough to breed and establish a new local population.

Fulvous Whistling-Ducks have long necks and long legs, which give them a different overall shape from many other North American waterfowl, especially when standing or walking on land. They are warm brown overall, with a darker brown back and wings. When seen in flight from below, their dark wings contrast against their light buff-colored body, giving them a multi-colored appearance. They usually travel in small flocks, which can often be detected by the near-constant whistling calls these ducks give in flight.

By Aidan Healey, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon
Photos by Greg Lavaty

Visit our Bird Gallery to learn about other Texas birds.

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