Black-Bellied Whistling Duck

black bellied whistling duckBlack-bellied Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis autumnalis), formerly known as “tree ducks,” because they are among the few waterfowl species that often perch in trees. These gregarious, mostly terrestrial, medium-sized dabblers are sexually monomorphic, meaning that both male and female black-bellied whistlers look similar, requiring cloacal examinations to accurately differentiate. They possess an “upright,” goose-like, posture formed by long, pale, bubble-gum pink feet and an elongated neck. Bright red-pink bills. As their name suggests, the underbelly and tail of this species is black, making their conspicuously large bright wing patches distinct whether folded or in flight. Upper wing coverts closely match grayish head plumage, the brown crown trailing down the neck and into the richly chestnut body. In flight, relatively slow wingbeats, sometimes in sizeable flocks, dark forms with large conspicuous white wing patches, contrasting black primaries, long legs under tail, constantly vocalizing high-pitched pee-chee-chee sounding whistle, to which they will readily decoy, and for which their Spanish name, pichiguila (pronounced peach-ee-whee-la) is derived.