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Birds of Quinta Mazatlan - Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Spanish Name: Pijije de Ala Blanca | Scientific Name: Dendrocygna autumnalis | Size: 12"

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is one of the few ducks that actually spends a lot of its time in trees. In fact, the name of this bird used to be the Black-bellied Tree-Duck. There are two species of Whistling-Duck in the United States, and both of them are found here in the RGV. The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is the more common of the two, and can be seen (or heard) flying overhead even at night.

Song

How it got its name, the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck gives a high pitched and loud whistle that usually is patterned like this: Zee-zee-ZEEE-ze-zee.

Behavior

This bird eats a lot of grasses, aquatic plants, and grains, and so most often is seen grazing and foraging by simply walking along or swimming in shallow water. This duck isn’t a diver.

Nesting

In Spring and Summer you’ll often see a pair of these ducks flying overhead, landing on trees, and calling back and forth. What they’re doing is looking for a nesting site in a tree cavity. They obviously need a fairly large cavity (compared to a woodpecker hole) to lay their eggs. Once they find one, you might see them come back to that same spot for several years. The ducklings, once hatched, have attractive dark lines over a creamy yellow as their downy plumage.

Habitat

This duck is often found in wetlands or adjacent areas. Resacas, inland lakes or ponds, and even golf courses are popular spots for these birds. Don’t be surprised if you see one in your yard if you have a tree with a cavity; they’ll take advantage of almost any available nesting site if needed.

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