Plumed Whistling duck

Eyton fluiteend

Plumed Whistling duck (Dendrocygna eytoni)

The Plumed Whistling duck (Dendrocygna eytoni) is a whistling duck from the family of water birds that includes ducks, geese, and swans (Anatidae).

Species name

Dutch name:
Eyton fluiteend
English name:
Plumed Whistling duck
German name:
French name:
Dendrocygne d'Eyton
Scientific name:
Dendrocygna eytoni

Scientific classification




It is a tall, long necked duck, with very prominent long lanceolate off-white plumes edged in black along the flanks. The face and foreneck are light, the crown and hind neck are pale brown and the brown feathers of the upper back are edged buff. The breast is pale chestnut, finely barred in black. The bill is mottled pink and grey and the legs and feet are pink.

Identical to male but smaller and duller. elongated flank plumes not so long, though this distinguishable only when pair-members seen together. 

Paler and duller brown then adults. Upper flanks less boldly barred black, while lower flank feathers much shorter and with wider black margins.


Extremely gregarious. Males may fight intensely at the start of the breeding season. Stray ducklings sometimes "adopted" by Wandering whistling duck (Dendrocygna arcuata) ducklings.

Pair bonds are strong and probably permanent.

Standard Measurements

Body Length (cm):
The male (drake) of the Plumed Whistling duck measures approximately 40-45 centimeters. The female measures approximately 40-45 centimeters.
Body Weight (grams):
The male will weight about 600-930 gram. The female will weight about 580-1220 gram.
The weight is notoriously variable and can only be used as indication!

Whistling-ducks generally do well, either in pens or in a park with access to extensive water area and good natural cover. They are gregarious outside the breeding season, and groups may bully smaller duck species, so should be kept in large areas, in which other birds have room to escape. Most need shelter in severe weather and a well-sheltered pen with frost-free night quarters for winter is suggested, or plenty of ground cover and/or straw to stand on, as they are susceptible to frostbite. They may be kept fully-flighted in aviaries, and have also been kept full-winged in open pens, tending not to wander. Perches should be provided at an appropriate height for pinioned or wing-clipped birds. Commercial pellets and grain are suitable for feeding.

Elevated nest boxes are appreciated by most species, although pinioned birds will use ground-level boxes; boxes may be placed over water or land. Eggs may be incubated by bantams and ducklings may be bantam-reared. Many species have been successfully parent-reared in captivity. Pairs kept isolated and fully flighted in a covered pen, with high-hung nest boxes "seldom fail to rear broods". Whistling-duck species may hybridise with one another and therefore should be kept in separate enclosures, and hybridisation has also occasionally been reported with Rosy-billed pochard (Netta peposaca).


Plumed whistling-ducks are sociable and may be kept in groups, or as single pairs in large enclosures with good vegetation for breeding. They require frost-free housing for winter and can be kept in aviaries. They may be fed wheat and pellets, together with green food such as lettuce, duckweed and grass. In Australia they are considered easy to keep and suitable for beginners.

Well established in collections, breeding may be best with a pair (which may be in a mixed collection) rather than a colony, preferably with ducks which have been able to choose their own mates. They nest in long grass or under a bush, not necessarily near water, and may also use a ground-level nest box, hollow log, open fronted drum, or in vegetation at the base of a tree. These ducks usually lay late April to June and may lay a replacement clutch if the eggs are removed or even if ducklings are removed some time through the rearing period.

Both artificial incubation and broodies may be used. Ducklings require much warmth initially and need to be encouraged to feed initially, e.g. by another duckling. Floating feed is preferred initially, but they will take food from a bowl by about one week old.

Parent-rearing may be easier; parents defend their ducklings vigorously but a covered enclosure will reduce losses from predation in the first two or three weeks.

These ducks do not usually hybridise although they may occasionally hybridise with other Dendrocygna spp: hybrids have been recorded with West Indian whistling duck (Dendrocygna arborea)Wandering whistling duck (Dendrocygna arcuata)Black-bellied whistling duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis) and Fulvous whistling duck (Dendrocygna bicolor).

The female Plumed Whistling duck usually lays from 8-14 white eggs and incubates them for 28-30 days.

Artificial incubating:

The ideal relative humidity for incubating most waterfowl eggs is 55% (ground nesters) and 40% (cavity nesters). The temperature is usually 37.4°C. Set ventilation as recommended by the incubator manufacturer. Eggs must be turned, either automatically or by hand, a minimum of 4 times a day. As the duckling develops there is a loss of water from the egg and the air sac gets bigger. In normal development of an egg with a 28-30 days incubation, the air sac occupies about a third of it three days earlier. Cleanliness is vital and ideally eggs should be moved to a separate hatcher at this point, where the humidity should be increased to 65% and even higher once they have pipped internally.

Bird banding:
Recommended closed leg band ring size for the Plumed Whistling duck is 11 mm.
The leg band ring can only be applied on a young whistling duck at around 12-14 days old.

It doesn't matter what leg that you band, but it's good to have a consistent system.
Suggested: Left leg = Female, Right leg = Male
Maintenance food:
Lundi Premium
Lundi Premium
Lundi Premium
Lundi Premium
Lundi Premium

Floating full food for all sea ducks, green ducks, eider ducks and geese, especially in the moulting and breeding phase ideally suited. Packed with wholesome raw materials, natural vitamins and trace elements, this performance food with a protein content of 30% forms the basis for lifelong vitality.

Photos of the Plumed Whistling duck

Videos of the Plumed Whistling duck