Description: Sexes of the White-faced whistling duck are very similar in appearance. The bill is slate colored and the legs are gray. The head and neck are black, except for the face and a large patch on the foreneck, which are white. The body is brown, with black wings, rump, and tail. Sides and flanks are narrowly barred in black and white. Nestlings are greenish-black to olive-brown on the upperside with cream colored spots on the back. The underside is pale yellow.
Size: Adults grow to be 17-19 inches (42.5-47.5 cm) in length and weigh one to two pounds (0.45- 0.91 kg), with males being slightly smaller.
Behavior: A highly social species, White-faced whistling ducks can be found in huge flocks. Mutual preening is highly developed and helps with permanent pair bonding; they participate in mutual preening more than any of the whistling duck species. Foraging is done primarily at night. They also frequently dive for their food, which is unusual behavior for ducks. When they are frightened, they stand still and stay quiet with their long necks stretched high.
Diet: Diet includes invertebrates such as aquatic insects, mollusks and crustaceans, as well as aquatic plants, seeds and rice.
Communication: White-faced whistling ducks vocalize through high, reedy whistles “tsree-tsree- tsreeo”. They are most vocal in the morning. When a pair is separated, they tend to call loudly to one another until they are reunited.
Reproduction: Nests are built from leaves in tall grass on the ground or in hollow trees. Up to nine creamy white eggs are laid at one time. Both sexes incubate the eggs for 26-28 days. Ducklings fledge in about two months. Pairs can lay up to four clutches per year. Several females may use the same nest, which is referred to as a “dump nest”. The eggs in a dump nest may or may not be incubated.
Habitat/range: Preferred habitats of the White-faced whistling duck include freshwater marshes, grassy lagoons, flooded rice fields, mud flats and occasionally brackish water. These ducks are unusual in that they are native to Central and South America, from Costa Rica to northern Argentina and Uruguay and they are also native to Africa, south of the Sahara from Senegal to Ethiopia and to southern Africa and Madagascar.
Status: Listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.