Fulvous Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna bicolor) is described as having goose-like posture due to their unusually long necks and legs. Drakes and hens are monomorphic (virtually identical) with grey-blue bills, legs and eye-rings. Overall rich chocolate-colored plumage covering back, rear, tail. with white uppertail coverts patch separating rear and tail. Tawney-buckskin colored belly and nape blending stripe-like into the chocolate back portions. Striking, elongated, buff-colored flank feathers forming intermittent streaks on the side pockets. Fulvous whistling duck wings covert is rich cinnamon, the remainder is black. Dark feather line running down the crown to the neck is only continuous on females. Throats striated gray and white. They’re extremely vocal while feeding and in flight, making high-pitched k-weeooo and k–ees.
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Fulvous whistling ducks have incredible 4-continent distribution, but only one subspecies is recognized worldwide. In North America, some fulvous whistlers will remain in the same area year-round along the coasts of Mexico and Florida. Those that do migrate for the breeding season are found mostly in Texas and Louisiana, with a few supposedly found in southern California. This species readily reacts to change in water levels and will also often migrate well beyond their normal range to find suitable habitat. Pairs of this species, unlike other dabblers, mate for life, sharing the responsibilities of rearing the ducklings.
Fulvous whistling ducks in the southeastern US are associated with rice production and have slowly migrated to areas that have plentiful rice fields. This may likely be an instance of preference versus availability, because rice-field habitat most resembles their preference for moist-soil and emergent marsh wetlands (nowhere have I yet witnessed greater fulvous whistling duck densities than in remote, emergent marsh habitats in Argentina). Shallow freshwater, whether natural or manmade with an abundance of desirable vegetation and invertebrates seems to be the ticket. Unlike black-bellied whistlers, the Fulvous Whistling Duck primarily filter-feed in areas with fine mud, filtering to find seeds and invertebrates. Other than rice, fulvous whistling ducks will eat seeds of wheat, sedges, spearwort, insect larvae, earthworms, and other invertebrates.
Per personal communications with US biologists, too little is known about North American fulvous whistling duck population trends. For the avid waterfowl species collector, the fulvous whistling duck represents one of the most challenging North American ducks to attain. Natural emergent marsh areas in central Florida seem to hold localized concentrations year-round, and they’re seasonally available in the rice fields and marshes associated with southwest Louisiana to southeast Texas. Is the Gulf Coastal US or even North America the farthest northern reaches of their distribution, did their population wither with declining rice production in key areas, or has it always been a low abundance North American species? And where exactly do migratory Gulf Coastal fulvous whistlers migrate? Even in Mexico harvesting fulvous whistling ducks is a rarity.