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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Dendrocygnidae (whistling ducks)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Anseriformes

The majority of ducks fall in the family Anatidae but the whistling ducks are in a separate family, the Dendrocygnidae.

Species indigenous to southern Africa 

Dendrocygna bicolor (Fulvous duck)

This golden-brown coloured duck with long legs and neck and greyish-black bill is widely distributed worldwide, occurring in the Americas, Africa, Madagascar and Asia. It is found mainly on large, shallow, inland water bodies with aquatic plants round the perimeter. Eats pondweed (Potamogeton) shoots, seeds of aquatic plants, and to a lesser extent, aquatic insects. 

Dendrocygna viduata (White-faced duck) 

This long-necked, dark brown duck with a white face and greyish-black bill has a wide distribution ranging from tropical America to Africa, Madagascar and the Comoro Islands. It is found mainly on inland waters in savanna and grassland regions, and in southern Africa is considered one of the most common ducks in these regions. It feeds both in the water (mainly on aquatic vegetation and seeds), and on land (mainly on grass seeds, including seeds from cultivated crops such as maize and sorghum). Small amounts of invertebrates are also eaten (molluscs and insects).

Thalassornis leuconotus (White-backed duck) 

A small diving duck with rufous and dark-brown barring, a black bill and a diagnostic pale spot at the base of the bill, widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa on water bodies with emergent and floating plants. Feeds almost exclusively on seeds of aquatic plants, which it obtains from the muddy bottom by diving.