Dendrocygna bicolor (Fulvous duck) 

Fluiteend [Afrikaans]; Idada (generic term for duck) [Xhosa]; Dada, Sekwe (both are generic names for duck or goose) [Shona]; Sekwa (generic term for duck or goose) [Tsonga]; Sehudi (generic term for duck) [Tswana]; Rosse fluiteend [Dutch]; Dendrocygne fauve [French]; Gelbe baumente [German]; Pato-assobiador-arruivado [Portuguese]

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Dendrocygna bicolor (Fulvous duck)  Dendrocygna bicolor (Fulvous duck) 

Fulvous duck. [photo Callie de Wet ]

Fulvous duck. [photo Callie de Wet ]

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. 

Distribution and habitat

Widely distributed worldwide: occurs in tropical South America, southern North America, Africa, Madagascar and S Asia. Widely distributed in Africa: occurs in most regions but not equatorial rain forest, desert and fynbos. In southern Africa, concentrated mainly in Gauteng, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, N Botswana and Namibia (mainly in the north). Found mainly on large, shallow, inland water bodies with aquatic grasses and other aquatic plants around the perimeter.  

Distribution of Fulvous duck in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

  • Ectoparasites
    • Phthiraptera (lice)
      • Holomenopon leucoxanthum
      • Trinoton aculeatum
      • Acidoproctus rostratus
    • Worm parasites
      • Nematode: Acuaria sp. 
    • Pathogens
      • tuberculosis
      • cyathostomiasis


Feeds by dabbling or diving. The records below are based on records from southern Africa, summarised in Hockey et al. (2005).

  • Eats mainly plant matter
    • Potamogetonaceae
      • Potamogeton crispus (Wavy-leaved pondweed): eats the shoots. On the Pongola River flood plain in KwaZulu-Natal, 98.8% of the winter-spring diet consisted of this plant (aquatic insects formed the remainder of the diet)
    • Poaceae (grasses). Eat the seeds of the following species:
      • Echinochloa stagnina (Long-awned water grass)
      • Digitaria ciliaris (Tropical finger grass)
      • Sorghum bicolor (Common wild sorghum)
      • Vossia cuspidata (Hippo grass)
      • Persicaria
      • Polygonum
      • Oryza sativa (Cultivated rice)
      • Oryza barthii (Wild rice)
      • Paspilidium geminatum (Swamp grass)
    • Asteraceae (daisy family)
      • Ambrosia artemisifolia (Ragweed): eats seeds and fruit
    • Nymphaeaceae (water lilies)
      • Nymphaea nouchali (Blue water lily): including seeds
    • Menyanthaceae
      • Nymphoides indica (Small yellow water lily): eats seeds/fruits
    • Najadaceae
      • Najas horrida (Saw-weed): eats seeds and fruits of this aquatic plant
    • Typhaceae
      • Typha domingensis (Bulrush): eats seeds.
    • Euphorbiaceae
      • Acalypha segetalis (Bushy pondweed): eats seeds/fruits.
    • Algae
      • Spirogyra
  • Also aquatic insects. 


  • Nest is built by both sexes and consists of a scrape in the ground, lined with grass stems, leaves and reeds, and hidden in long grass within 50 m of water. Makes a more substantial, built-up nest if the site chosen is on marshy ground near the water's edge. Also known to nest up to 0.5 m above the water in thick reeds.
  • Breeding season (laying dates). Known to nest at virtually any time of year but generally after good rains. 
  • The female lays 6-13 eggs (probably laying at most one egg per day) after which she and her partner take turns in incubating them for 24-32 days before they hatch. The male usually incubates them at night.
  • By 52 days the young are able to fly and by 60 days old they have almost complete juvenile plumage. 


Not threatened, in fact distribution and density has expanded as a result of the construction of artificial water bodies (e.g. farm dams). 



  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 


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