Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Wandering Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna arcuata)


French: Dendrocygne à lunules German: Wanderpfeifgans Spanish: Suirirí capirotado
Other common names: Wandering Tree Duck

Anas arcuata


, 1824,



Has been thought to be closely related to D. bicolor, to which it shows many similarities in morphology and behaviour, and the two have hybridized. Form pygmaea is appreciably smaller, but seemingly identical in plumage. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. a. arcuata (Horsfield, 1824) – Philippines, S Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Moluccas and Lesser Sundas.
  • D. a. pygmaea Mayr, 1945 – New Britain, where possibly extinct; formerly also Fiji.
  • D. a. australis Reichenbach, 1850 – S New Guinea lowlands and N & E Australia.
  • Birds of N New Guinea intermediate between nominate arcuata and australis.

    Descriptive notes

    40–45 cm; male 741–948 g, female 453–976 g; wingspan 80–90 cm. Lateral undertail-coverts whitish. Black dots on sides of breast. Similar to D.... read more


    Considered comparatively quiet compared to congeners; most commonly given is multi-syllabic... read more


    Eminently aquatic, frequenting bodies of relatively deep water with emerging vegetation, showing... read more

    Food and feeding

    Almost entirely vegetarian, mostly water lilies (Nymphaea), sedges and other aquatic plants and grasses. Obtains most of food by... read more


    Starts at beginning of wet season. Monogamous, probably for life. In single pairs; nest built with plant matter on ground, frequently among... read more


    Dispersive; movements largely determined by variations in water level; concentrated in permanent... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Has decreased markedly in several areas, but population in Australia and New Guinea most recently (late 1990s) suggested to be... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Wandering Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna arcuata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 February 2020).