Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

1/160s, f13.0, ISO 800, Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EF800mm f/5.6L IS USM


The black-bellied whistling ducks have long legs and necks, and are very gregarious, flying to and from nighttime roosts in large flocks. Both sexes have the same plumage, and all have a hunched appearance and black underwings in flight. It breeds from the southernmost United States and tropical Central to south-central South America. In the USA, it can be found year-round in parts of southeast Texas, and seasonally in southeast Arizona, and Louisiana's Gulf Coast. It is a rare breeder in such disparate locations as Florida, Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina. The habitat is quiet shallow freshwater ponds, lakes, and marshes, cultivated land or reservoirs with plentiful vegetation, where this duck feeds mainly at night on seeds and other plant food. Tree-lined bodies of water are of particular value and as the old common name suggests, they are quite fond of perching in trees. Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are quite unique among ducks in their strong monogamous pair bond. The pairs often stay together for many years, a trait more often associated with geese and swans. Both parents share all tasks associated with the raising of young, from incubation to the rearing of ducklings. The ducks, primarily cavity nesters, prefer the confines of a hollow tree, but will nest on the ground when necessary. They also make use of chimneys, abandoned buildings, or nest boxes, the latter having been increasingly provided to them over recent decades, especially in southeast Texas and Mexico. Ducklings leap from nest cavities within two days of hatching, can feed themselves immediately, and stay with the parents for up to eight weeks.
Brazos Bend State Park, TX
 
04/07/2012