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Fulvous Whistling-Duck

Dendrocygna bicolor
The swans, geese and ducks are mid-sized to large birds most commonly found on or near water. Most have plump bodies, long necks and short wings. Most feed while on the water, diving or merely tilting their bodies so that their heads and necks are submerged to search for fish, plants and invertebrates. Washington representatives of the order all belong to one family:
The waterfowl family is represented in Washington by two distinct groups—the geese and swans, and the ducks. Whistling-ducks are also considered a distinct subfamily, and, although they have not been sighted in Washington in many years, Fulvous Whistling-Ducks have been recorded historically in Washington and remain on the official state checklist. All members of the waterfowl family have large clutches of precocial young. They hatch covered in down and can swim and eat on their own almost immediately after hatching.
Accidental visitor. Washington Bird Records Committee review list species.

    General Description

    Sometimes called tree-ducks, the whistling-ducks compose a unique group of eight species of worldwide distribution, mostly in the tropics. They are distinctive for their long-legged, long-necked, rather chunky appearance. Of the two species that reach the United States only one, the Fulvous Whistling-Duck, has been recorded in Washington. Its rich, tawny-colored underparts contrast with a darker back; all-dark wings and a broad white band across the rump stand out in flight.

    This species typically favors open, shallow freshwater habitats such as marshes, reed-fringed ponds, and flooded fields, roosting by day and foraging at night. It breeds along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas, in southern Florida, and in the Imperial Valley of southern California, south through the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America to Argentina. It is also resident in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Birds regularly wander northward in North America, predominantly east of the Rockies and often in small parties. Washington’s only confirmed record was of one bird shot from a flock of 10 at Grays Harbor (Grays Harbor County) in October 1905. In September of that year five birds were shot from a flock of 11 at Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, providing what is still the province’s only convincing record. Oregon, too, has a single well-documented record, of a flock of 11 birds at Coos Bay in February 1970.

    Revised June 2007

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