Bird’s ID # 232

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

The black-bellied whistling duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis), formerly called the black-bellied tree duck, is a whistling duck that breeds from the southernmost United States, Mexico, and tropical Central to south-central South America. In the US, it can be found year-round in peninsular Florida, parts of southeast Texas, coastal Alabama and Mississippi and seasonally in southeast Arizona, and Louisiana’s Gulf Coast.

The black-bellied whistling duck is a mid-sized waterfowl species. Length ranges from 47 to 56 cm (19 to 22 in), body mass from 652 to 1,020 g (1.437 to 2.249 lb) and wingspan ranges from 76 to 94 cm (30 to 37 in). It has a long red bill, long head and longish legs, pale gray head and mostly gray-brown plumage. The belly and tail are black, and the body plumage, back of the neck and cap are a rich chestnut brown. The face and upper neck are gray, and they sport a thin but distinct white eye-ring. The extensive white in the wings is obvious in flight, less so on the ground; it is formed by the secondary remiges while the primaries are black; the wing-coverts are brown. Males and females look alike; juveniles are similar but have a gray bill and less contrasting belly.

Feeding often occurs nocturnally, but they can be encountered eating at any hour of the day. Black-bellied whistling ducks ingest a wide variety of plant material (including corn, rice, millets, several types of weed and other grasses), but also consume arthropods (such as insects and spiders), aquatic invertebrates (such as snails and molluscs) and tadpoles when available. They often feed on submerged vegetation by wading through shallow water. As its Latin name (autumnalis) implies, it is commonly seen gleaning recently harvested fields for leftover seeds and invertebrates brought up by the harvesters disturbing the soil.

Avian101 – HJ Ruiz

5 thoughts on “Bird’s ID # 232

  1. Oh how very wonderful that in your new home state you have this very special duck, H.J. The whistling is a fun treat. I also enjoyed seeing the ducklings and cattle egret too. I think you will find much enjoyment with all the many wild birds that Florida has to offer.

    • I’m hoping to take advantage of living in Florida, and build up a good amount of bird photographs, to let you enjoy what I see in this part of the USA. Thank you, my dear friend. 🙂

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