Pictures and description of the Lesser Whistling Duck

 Whistling  Duck  
Return To Index page Cotton Pygmy Goose Tufted Duck Garganey

From the family of Anatidae

The Duck is so named after its striking calls. The Whistling Duck aka known the Tree Duck is both aquatic as well as land based. But it seldom perches, in the daylight hours remain in the water or standing on land. It moves and lives in flock. Sometimes could be small as 5-6 birds but when possible, gathers in fairly large flock of hundred bird

Whistling Duck are nocturnal feeders and in the day, they gather in flocks in wetland and lakes that has good vegetation cover. Undisturbed they do feed otheriwse just floating and gazing. They can perch on tree but hardly do so but they build their nest in the hollow of the trees. Also seen were nest built at the fork of trees. That's where they acquire the other name of Tree Duck.

These Ducks are gregarious at times and feed mainly on plants they gather from the water surfaces. They do dabble and dive but not so often seen and feed on small fish, frogs and other invertebrates such as mollusks and worms.

In flight, the Whistling Duck held their head below that level of the body, flying slowly with rapid wing flapping. Without fear or any intention of leaving their place of roost, they would circle giving out that continuous calls. This brown colored Duck has long neck with broad wings producing that distinctive 2-notes wheezy call from the sky.


Wandering Whistling Duck Dendrocygna arcuata
Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica
White-winged Duck Asarcornis scutulata
Cotton Pygmy-goose Nettapus coromandelianus
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Garganey Anas querquedula
Common Teal Anas crecca
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

Worldwide there are 9 species and South-East Asia there 3 species of which 2 species could be seen in Malaysia


Lesser Whistling-Duck  Dendrocygna javanica

 Size & diagnostic markings:- This Duck is 40 cm long, it has broad and rounded body. Long neck with dull colored plain beige plumage. The dark wing in reddish-chestnut

 Distribution :-  Resident in the Indian sub-continent, The Sundas and southern China where it breeds.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland water bird, found in almost all abandoned waterways
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- Almost every waterways with little human intervention. Also in farms with human around. Biggest population seen in Bidor ex-mining lands.
Record of bird's calls :-    and Videos

Lesser Whistling-Duck  # 1

Lesser Whistling-Duck    # 2

Lesser Whistling-Duck  # 3

Lesser Whistling-Duck   # 4

Lesser Whistling-Duck   # 5

Lesser Whistling-Duck   # 6

Lesser Whistling-Duck  # 7

Lesser Whistling-Duck  # 8

Lesser Whistling-Duck    # 9

Lesser Whistling-Duck    # 10

Lesser Whistling-Duck   # 11

Lesser Whistling-Duck   # 12

 My personal jottings on the Lesser Whistling-Duck:-

More so in ponds with little pollution and with lots of vegetations. They were also in waterways and river with vegetation on the banks.


The numbers in Bidor was impressive in right season with the field filled and when they took off, it was like  dark cloud in the sky. The flock do not tolerate the approaches made by humans and would take flight at the slightest initiative.

In Pulau Burung, quite a different scene. The Ducks gathers in groups of 4-8 birds and were scattered around the whole pond. These batches of Ducks would stay put and showed no apprehension with birders walking up and down the edge of the pond. Distance could be as close as 50 meters. The last few photos on this page are scenes from Pulau Burung.