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For more information and images on Ducks, visit the Categories section below, in Florida Animals — or in such posts as Why You Sweet, Black-bellied… and more.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks — also known as Black-bellied Tree Ducks — are a common sight in our wetlands. I adore these ducks: They have a quirky appearance, they’re docile and sweetly tempered, and are constantly paired. You rarely see one without its companion.

The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is one of only two whistling-duck species native to North America, and is most often referred to as simply the “whistling duck” in our area — and in the South in general. These ducks are considered unusual for North American waterfowl, with their striking appearance, long, dangling legs, and odd feeding habits. The males and females of the species look alike.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck Looking over His Wetlands

Mainly non-migratory, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are native to the southernmost United States and South America. They live in freshwater ponds, lakes, and marshes, or cultivated land and reservoirs that are plentiful with vegetation. They usually nest in hollow trees, but will nest on the ground when necessary. As cavity nesters, they make use of chimneys, abandoned buildings, or nest boxes. Nest boxes have been increasingly provided to these ducks over recent decades, thus helping rebuild their numbers.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks Flying over the Wetlands

It’s common to see these whistling ducks feeding on vegetation as they wade through the shallow waters, but they’ll also consume arthropods and aquatic invertebrates. In other areas, they feed on recently-harvested fields for leftover seed and invertebrates turned up by farming equipment.

In years past, overhunting of this docile species was a great concern — however, over the past 30 years their populations have increased significantly (nest boxes having helped their cause). They’re sweet and colorful additions to our wetland ecosystem.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck Pair in the Wetlands

Fun Fact:

The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is unique among ducks — they’re more like geese and swans, in that they form strong monogamous bonds. Pairs will often remain together for many years. And they’re progressive! Both the male and female share the tasks of raising the young, from incubation to rearing.

Another species dabbling in the wetlands:

Dabbling Duck, Green Cay Wetlands

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ruth Malone #

    A pair of Black Bellied Whistling Ducks –my back yard, Venice Fl. Sunday morning 4-15-2018– 7:15 AM

    April 15, 2018
    • How wonderful! I hadn’t really seen them too much, so had to do a bit of research, myself. They’re just lovely though!!

      April 17, 2018
  2. Ruth Malone #

    Beautiful !

    April 15, 2018
  3. Glen Etheridge #

    I live in Cantonment Fl, a suburb of Pensacoa. We have been fortunate to have a family of whistling ducks in our pond. There were 11 offspring. Mom, Dad and all but 3 flew away (I assume headed to Mexico). I am worried about the ones left behind. Now there are only two.

    September 4, 2018
    • They were always such a rare sight where we were (in South FLA) – but so wonderful! I wonder why they left a few behind; perhaps because they couldn’t make the trip? I hope they’ll be OK in your neck of the woods, though. Here’s to sending them lots of love!!

      September 5, 2018
  4. Ross #

    I have a flock of sometimes up to 50+ that visit my pond every night😁-I’m near Tampa. They’re awesome! I walk right next to them and they don’t fly away.

    They don’t fly in the whole group of 50 though. They arrive and leave in groups of about 10 or 15.

    Truly beautiful!

    April 21, 2019
    • How wonderful – and beautiful! You’re so lucky to have such guests (or vice-versa, hahaha!). 🙂

      April 24, 2019

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