Duck, White-winged Wood

Cairina scutulata

Adult length of 66-81 cm and a body-weight of 2.9-3.9 kg in males and 1.9- ca. 3 kg in females; coloration: plumage of the head is white with black spots or entirely white. The upper parts are black with green reflections, the under parts chestnut brown except for the upper breast, which is greenish-black or white. The primaries are brown, the secondaries brown with blue-grey on outer web, the tertiaries white with black margins. The upper wing coverts are white with median coverts grey tipped black. The tail is dark brown with upper tail coverts black with green reflections. The bill is orange spotted with black, and the legs are orange.








North-east India and Bangladesh, through South East Asia to Java and Sumatra


Dense tropical evergreen forests, near rivers and swamps

Life Expectancy

Ranges from 10 – 20 years

Sexual Maturity

1 year


In the wild, they eat seeds, vegetation, fish and other animal matter, aquatic snails, spiders and insects; in the Zoo, they are fed a scientifically developed, commercially available pelleted waterfowl diet with greens and insects.


IUCN – Endangered; CITES – Appendix I


The white-winged wood duck inhabits stagnant or slow-flowing natural and artificial wetlands, within or adjacent to evergreen, moist, deciduous or swamp forests, on which it depends for roosting and nesting, usually in tree-holes. Although lowlands (below c.200 m) provide optimum habitat, it occurs up to 1,400 m, especially on plateaus supporting sluggish perennial rivers and pools. Although essentially sedentary, some birds make short dry-season movements in response to low water-levels. Found singly or in pairs, the white-winged wood duck is active mainly at dusk and dawn foraging. It undergoes an annual molt in September or October and is flightless for a fortnight, moving into more densely forested swamps for protection from predators. Breeding occurs during the late dry season, when the female lays up to 16 eggs in a nest constructed in a tree hole, fork or hollow between three and twelve meters above the ground. Incubation lasts 33 days, and hatching is timed with the start of the heavy seasonal rainfall. The chicks disperse after 14 weeks of parental care.


Special Interests

The white-winged wood duck was formerly placed in the genus Cairina and allied with the dabbling ducks. However, mtDNA cytochrome b and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 sequence analysis and the biogeographical pattern of distribution indicate that the anatomical similarity to the Muscovy duck is deceiving. Thus, this species might more appropriately be placed in a monotypic genus, as Asarcornis scutulata, which appears to be unrelated to the Muscovy Duck but closer to the diving ducks.



This forest duck is listed as Endangered because it has a very small and fragmented population which is undergoing a very rapid and continuing decline as a result of loss of and disturbance to riverine habitats. In 2002, the white-winged wood duck population had fallen to only 800, with about 200 in Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, 150 on Sumatra, notably in Way Kambas National Park and 450 in India, Bangladesh and Burma. Its decline is largely attributable to widespread lowland deforestation, compounded locally by drainage and conversion of wetlands. The resultant small, fragmented populations are vulnerable to extinction from stochastic environmental events, loss of genetic variability, disturbance, hunting and collection of eggs and chicks for food or pets. Hydro-power development, inappropriate forest management, and pollution are more localized threats. Conservation actions proposed: Conduct further surveys to clarify its distribution and status. Instigate regular monitoring of selected key populations; promote strict enforcement of hunting regulations and minimize encroachment, disturbance and habitat degradation in all protected areas supporting populations; campaign for increased protection of peat-swamp forest in Sumatra; campaign against pesticide and oil pollution at key sites in north-east India; and, promote widespread conservation awareness campaigns in and around key protected areas. Why do zoos keep this animal? The white-winged wood duck is endangered in the wild and continues to decline. Maintaining viable ex situ populations is of conservation relevance and a coordinated breeding program has been implemented in North American region.

Jacksonville Zoo History

This rare duck species was first added to the Jacksonville Zoo’s animal collection in 2010. The Jacksonville Zoo has successfully bred this species.


River Valley Aviary