Asarcornis scutulata (S. Müller, 1842) - White-winged Wood Duck

Subspecies in India

Alternative name: This is also known as the White-winged Duck.

Old Taxonomy: Anas scutulata Muller, 1842; Cairina scutulata (S. Muller, 1842).

This species is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (

Photo Gallery and Species Biology

Breeding season: April–July, during late summer and beginning of rains. Monogamous.

Nest: Nests in tree hollows, 3–23 m above ground and typically over open water, sometimes in old nests of other birds or on ground, on stream bank below large fallen log or among dense stand on small island in pond. Always close to wetlands; nest may be lined with leaves, grasses and roots of water hyacinth.

Eggs: Clutch 6–15; white with faint green tinge, size 61·8–71·6 mm × 44·2–52·6 mm.

Size: 66–81 cm.

Distinguishing characters: A large white patch on wing-shoulder (upper coverts) and spotted head.

Adult: White head and neck with patchily black spots. Rest of plumage largely glistening blackish and chestnut-brown. A large white patch on wing-shoulder (upper coverts), bluish-grey, primaries. Bill yellow to dark orange. Feet lemon-yellow to orange-yellow mottled greenish in colour. Female smaller with heavier blackish spotting on head.

Young/Immature: Duller and browner.

Similar Species in India: Can be confused with female of Knob-billed Duck, but presence of distinct white patch on wings, reddish iris and yellow beak sets White-winged Duck apart.

Resident at Assam, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Sumatra; previously more widespread through range, possibly extinct in Malaysia and Java. Recently recorded in Bhutan. It inhabits inland wetlands and forests in India (mostly in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Assam, and Manipur). 
Pairs or small parties of 5 or 6 on jungle ponds. A tropical forest species, inhabiting undisturbed, secluded pools and marshes in dense, freshwater and peat swampy forest, including partially logged areas. Sluggish channels, river pools and occasionally lagoons of larger rivers.

Food: Omnivorous, its diet includes crustaceans, small fish, and aquatic plants.

Call/Song: Honking and whistling calls made both male and female.

Migration Status: Resident species.   

Conservation Status:

This species is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (

According to the IUCN Red List Assessment, the population of this species is declining, with the current population size estimated at 250-999 individuals. The threat to its persistence comes from habitat disturbance due to agriculture and other human encroachments (BirdLife International 2017).

StateJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecNo date
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Andhra Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh
Dadra & Nagar Haveli
Daman & Diu
Himachal Pradesh
Jammu and Kashmir
Madhya Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal

1. Rasmussen, P. C., and J. C. Anderton. 2005. Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Washington, DC.

2, Ali, S., and S. D. Ripley. 1968. Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan: Together with those of Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Ceylon (Vol. 1). Oxford University Press.

3. Stuart Baker, E. C. 1933. The Nidification of Birds of the Indian Empire. Taylor And Francis.

4. BirdLife International 2017. Asarcornis scutulata (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22680064A110103586. Accessed on 31 January 2020.


Page citation

Anonymous 2024. Asarcornis scutulata (S. Müller, 1842) – White-winged Wood Duck. In Satose, V., A. Bayani, V. Ramachandran, P. Roy, and K. Kunte (Chief Editors). Butterflies of India, v. 2.17. Published by the Indian Foundation for Butterflies. URL:, accessed 2024/06/25.