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Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis

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  • © Rolando Ch├ívez

Shaped more like geese than ducks, whistling-ducks are moderately large (48 cm length), birds with long legs and necks and an erect posture. They fly with a distinctive profile—neck outstretched with the head held slightly lower than the body. Adults are easily recognized by the combination of their coral red bill, pink legs and feet, gray head with chestnut crown and white eye ring, gray (Panama and south) or chestnut (north of Panama) breast, chestnut lower neck and mantle, white horizontal stripe along the side (perched) and black belly. Flying birds show a distinctive, large white patch on the upper surface of each wing. Goose-like in their feeding as well, whistling-ducks often graze in very shallow water or in drier, upland habitats away from water. The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a colorful bird that inhabits mangroves, coastal lagoons, river edges, freshwater swamps and marshes, natural and artificial lakes and reservoirs, savannas and agricultural fields, and even residential areas with mature trees. It ranges from southeastern Arizona to east Texas and south to Argentina. Tropical populations are non-migratory. Northern- and southern-most birds may move toward the Equator during their respective winters. Holes in many species of trees serve as nest sites. They will also nest on the ground, in abandoned machinery, chimneys, and other artificial cavities. In many areas, nest boxes are provided and readily accepted. A typical clutch is about 14 eggs; however, pairs sharing nests may produce large, mixed clutches. Both parents help with incubation duties. The call, often heard at night as flocks move to and from nocturnal feeding grounds, is a high pitched "pe-che-che."

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Repetitive whistled calls

© Russell A Charif

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  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-breeding

Recommended Citation

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/bbwduc