Widespread in both tropical America and Africa, this striking primitive duck breeds so well in captivity that there are well over a thousand in the world's zoos, making it one of the most widespread zoo birds. Like other whistling ducks, they can be very noisy. Males and females are colored the same. Two of its relatives, the Fulvous and Black-bellied whistling ducks (D. autumnalis and D. bicolor), breed in Texas and both can also be seen at the DWA.
Though found from Mexico to Brazil, this primitive bird has never been common in captivity. Chicks were hatched in California in the 1970s, but the species had long vanished from US collections by the time several were imported from Panama by the DWA in 2009. The large eggs are a beautiful shade of blue.
This bird was once extremely rare in captivity, but there are now more than 100 in collections around the world, almost all captive bred. This population is important as this species is endangered, with a wild population of less than 3,000 in the mountains of Colombia and Venezuela. Several have recently hatched at the DWA. The bizarre blue "helmet" is actually part of the skull.