Living Bird Magazine
Black-bellied Whistling-DuckDendrocygna autumnalis
- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a boisterous duck with a brilliant pink bill and an unusual, long-legged silhouette. In places like Texas and Louisiana, watch for noisy flocks of these gaudy ducks dropping into fields to forage on seeds, or loafing on golf course ponds. Listen for them, too—these ducks really do have a whistle for their call. Common south of the U.S., Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks occur in several southern states and are expanding northward.More ID Info
Find This Bird
If you’re in the range of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks (and that range is expanding all the time—keep an eye on the species’ eBird map to see where they’ve been seen) you should be on the lookout for them perching around shallow ponds; walking in the short grass of lawns and golf courses; and especially in agricultural fields, where these large ducks eat lots of grain. They feed nocturnally, so watch around sunset for large flocks to begin flying out to fields from their roosts.
- Suirirí Piquirrojo (Spanish)
- Dendrocygne à ventre noir (French)
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks take readily to nest boxes. If you live within their range, you can make a nest box out of half-inch marine plywood. It should be about 24 inches high at the front and 20 inches at the back, with a hole about 5–6 inches in diameter (see Bolen 1967 in the Credits section of this account for full instructions).
- Cool Facts
- The whistling-ducks were formerly known as tree-ducks, but only a few, such as the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck actually perch or nest in trees. They look most like ducks, but their lack of sexual dimorphism, relatively long-term pair bonds, and lack of complex pair-forming behavior more resembles geese and swans.
- The oldest recorded Black-bellied Whistling Duck was a male, and at least 10 years, 7 months when it was found in Louisiana.