The Philippine duck (Anas luzonica) on Siargao Island.
Found in wetlands around the country the Philippine duck (or mallard) is the only duck endemic to the Philippine archipelago.
A large dabbling duck, this bird is around 50 cm in length.
The Philippine duck predictably eats shrimp, fish, aquatic insects, and the vegetation found in its wetland habitats around the country.
This duck is endemic to the Philippines and has a ‘Vulnerable’ conservation status. I’ve seen estimates for the wild population that range between 3,300 and 10,000. We often see a hundred or more at one time in our walks through the rice fields in Del Pilar. Hunting for food is an obvious threat to this duck as is wetland conversion.
The Philippine duck seems to have lately acquired the nickname: “the iPhone bird”. Can you see why?
The bright iridescent wing patches are called speculum and can look either green or blue.
The Philippine duck is often seen here on Siargao in mixed flocks together with the Wandering whistling duck (Dendrocygna arcuata). The Wandering whistling duck isn’t a Philippine endemic and its range extends from parts of Australia, Borneo, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and to the Pacific Islands.
Let’s see if we can tell them apart.
What differences do you notice?
Can you spot which are the Philippine ducks in the picture below? Hint: look for the prominent and diagnostic eye stripe.
Additionally, the Wandering whistling duck makes a twitterish whistling call while the Philippine duck has a more familiar “quack”. The former’s wing sound in flight has also been described as ‘whistling’.