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Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Dendrocygna autumnalis

Length: 21 inches Wingspan: 30 inches Seasonality: Rare Visitor
ID Keys: Black belly, red bill, gray face, ruddy neck, breast, and upper body, bold black-and-white wing pattern

Black-bellied Whistling Duck - Dendrocygna autumnalisThe Black-bellied Whistling Duck is typically only found in the extreme southern edge of Arizona and Texas, and in Mexico, and is only an extremely rare visitor to South Dakota.  It can be quite common in it's normal range, adapting extremely well to a human presence by utilizing nest boxes and being attracted to feeding of corn and other items. 

Habitat: Shallow freshwater ponds and lakes, especially those with surrounding trees and/or brush. 

Diet: Primarily feeds on vegetable matter, especially seeds and grains.   Will occasionally feed on snails, insects, or other small invertebrates.

Behavior: Usually feeds on land, often foraging in harvested fields to pick up waste grain.  Will feed either during the day or at night.  Has also become accustomed to feeding by humans.  Will also dabble in shallow water, or tip to grab items under the water.

Nesting: Often a colony nester, typically in a tree cavity near water.  Will also nest in thick vegetation near the water's edge.  Will utilize erected nest boxes.

Interactive bird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of Black-bellied Whistling Duck sightings

Song: Distinct wheezy whistling.  Calls very often in flight.

Migration: Not a long-distance migrant, with many populations staying all year long.  There is some southward movement of birds at the northern end of the range in the winter.

Similar Species: Generally distinctive and easily identified.

Conservation Status: Not a conservation concern, with numbers increasing steadily since the mid 1900s.  It's adaptation to a human presence has undoubtedly fueled the increase in numbers.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter: Black-bellied Whistling Duck

2) Audubon Guide - Black-bellied Whistling Duck

3) Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Photo Information: Public domain photo, from Alan D. Wilson


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Black-bellied Whistling Duck - Range Map
South Dakota Status: As of 2010, the species has only been found on one occasion, in 2009 in the southeastern part of the state.  Given the increasing population and tendency of the species to occasionally wander, it might be expected again.

Additional Black-bellied Whistling Duck Photos (Coming Soon!)