Thursday, August 8, 2019

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks

A new bird species showed up this past week in our local patch. Number 175 on the list was the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. This species has become more common in our County during the past few years, but seemed to be avoiding our neighborhood. (Click HERE  to view my eBird patch list).

On July 29, a flock of five flying over the lake attracted my attention while I was photographing this Great Blue Heron in the darkness before sunrise:

Great Blue Heron in the dark 05-20190729

Their continuous piercing wheezy whistles were hard to miss. I snapped a quick shot without time to correct my camera settings for a flight photo. The results were poor:

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks 02-20190729

A heavily cropped image of one member of the flock documents pertinent field marks, notably the white upper wing coverts which contrast with the black flight feathers, bright orange bill and feet, and dark undersides: 

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks CROP 01-20190729

When I see whistling-ducks I think of fellow East Texas blogger Theresa ("Tex"), who had a large flock on her property and so enjoyed sharing photos of them. My first encounter with the species was ten years ago, when they suddenly became rather common in Wakodahatchee Wetlands in neighboring Palm Beach County.

This was my first photo of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks (February 24, 2009):

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Wakodahatchee Wetlands 20090224

They differ from pond ducks by having long necks and long legs which give them a goose-like appearance:

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks 09-20121226

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks 3-20150212

I grew up calling them Tree Ducks. They have long claws, an adaptation to nesting in tree cavities. They range in coastal areas of Mexico, Central and South America, Florida and the Gulf states as well as inland into Texas and north along the Mississippi Valley and have sporadically expanded their breeding range into the eastern half of the lower 48 States.

Only two whistling-duck species are found in North America. The Fulvous Whistling-Duck  occupies a more restricted range in the USA, but is also found in South America, Africa, Eurasia and even in Europe. I have photographed this species on only one occasion, in a Storm Water conservation area (STA-5, February, 2010) in south Florida:

Fulvous Whistling-Ducks 20100215

Rain and thunderstorms have kept us close to home. On July 30 we had to make a hasty retreat from the wetlands when, before sunrise, the sky turned dark and we heard thunder:

Storms before sunrise 07-20190730

 Storms before sunrise 06-20190730

Safe in our back yard around sunrise, we watched the storm dissipate before it reached our house:

Storms before sunrise 05-20190730

Storms before sunrise 04-20190730

The next morning was different. We did not even think about taking a walk. This was the menacing sky over our back yard lake just before sunrise on July 31:

Approaching storm 0643AM-20190731

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

 Linking to Fences Around the World by Gosia


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display



  1. Whistling Ducks in general (formerly known as Tree Ducks) are attractive birds. To the best of my recollection I have seen them only in Texas in North America, but a visit to Costa Rica in the winter yields thousands of them. Great sighting for your area, as unusual as the American Avocet that has been hanging around here.

  2. Wow, man k├Ânnte meinen der Himmel explodiert!

  3. Oh those fiery oranges! I love it!

  4. Beautiful and dramatic sky captures. I love the view you have from your backyard patio!

  5. Stunning skyview.
    Beautiful pics.

  6. Yes these duck like you remind me of Tex and I so miss her meme. WOW! ALL these sky shots with their reflections are fabulous Kenneth. I hope you will have a very good weekend.

  7. Thank you for the Whistling Duck information. Don't see them around here. Beautiful reflections photo.

  8. What an amazing sky! Beautifully captured in the reflection photo.

    It took me awhile to figure it out but the yellow reflection in my photo isn't a reflection it's the wall inside of the shop. The brick wall reflection has a white border also a reflection. There seems to be an optical illusion created by the dark coats hanging in the window behind the glass.

  9. Fabulous, breath-taking sky captures - thank you for sharing your part of our world and your photographic talents.

  10. Beautiful watercolor sky. Love it.

  11. Wow, your sky images are so dramatic and beautiful. I love the Whistling Ducks. I hope to see the Fulvous Whistling Duck some day. Wonderful photos ! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, wishing you a happy weekend! PS, thank you for the visit and comment.

  12. You have a stunning view from your patio. That duck is very decorative.

  13. What amazing views of the sky! I miss Tex and her Good fences party! I still take lots of fence photos! Hope you have a chance to look at the flock of birds I have today to help with an ID! Thanks!

  14. What great looking ducks!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  15. Love whistling ducks!!

    Happy day, and thanks for sharing this post with us at I'd Rather B Birdin' this weekend.

  16. your home looks very nice...the sky pics are amazing

  17. Love the duck photos but those sky shots are quite amazing. Have a great week, Diane

  18. Wonder if the whistling ducks really whistle? Their colors are gorgeous! Love the great heron's pose in your first image - like a statue:) My goodness, these clouds - they're a cloudscape in itself. Many thanks for sharing these beautiful and colorful things in nature with All Seasons!

    I recognized the weather pattern, because one of the times we were in FL was in Aug. Scary and dramatic weather - when not knowing this pattern, it is like anytime a hurricane will break out. It took a few days for us Californians to realize, that was not going to happen (what a relief!)
    Later in the week, I will look up the left side of this waterfall (in my archives) I posted for All Seasons you were asking about. From the place I was standing one can't see the left side, but further away, is a magical view, and will send it by email. Hope you have some days this week without these big rain storms!

  19. @Jesh-- Yes, the whistling-ducks do have a sort of wheezy whistle which is quite loud and was continuous as this flock passed over the lake. I will look forward to seeing the outflow area from the waterfall, as it left me imagining a continuing vista. Thanks for visiting my blog, and for hosting your All Seasons meme!

  20. Amazing photos of sunrise. What a treat to spot a new bird species.

  21. I haven't sen a whistling duck before so thanks for the photos. Those fiery skies are amazing.

  22. Wonderful images of our Florida summer skies, Ken! A birder has to be quick lately or else get wet!

    The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck has certainly exploded in recent years in many areas. That "whistle" has now become commonplace in many of our birding spots.

    Enjoyed your post!

  23. I never tire looking at pictures of birds and your've taken such beautiful photos.

  24. The long neck does give them a different look. Love the sky captures. Beautiful photography.

  25. The whistlers would be such a welcome addition to anyone’s patch! Be careful out there ... those beautiful skies are scary!


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