Black-bellied whistling ducks

October 22, 2016 at 10:03 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wildlife) ()

Black-bellied whistling ducks

Black-bellied whistling ducks

“Gaudy” and “boisterous” is how the Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes the black-bellied whistling duck.  Although they are also supposed to be nocturnal feeders, I’ve seen them in several states, happily feeding in the daytime.

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This flock of twelve is currently at Liberty Lake in Lawton, Oklahoma. They were spotted by two photographers from the Lawton Constitution newspaper, and they seem to be perfectly happy on this little lake in the middle of a tight little neighborhood.

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I first saw this bird at Patagonia Lake State Park in Arizona about 15 years ago. They were also coming to the feed trough at a Texas Hill Country farm B&B, and I saw them at Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Boynton Beach, Florida.

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“They seem to readily adopt human-altered habitats, and this has helped them move north into the southern U.S. in recent decades,” says the Cornell website. Southwest Oklahoma has many characteristics of both the South and the Southwest, and it’s cool to see this bird here, as well as species such as canyon wrens which favor deserts.

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So many of the birds and plants here remind me of my year at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia. And many also remind me of Big Bend National Park in Texas or even the Mojave Desert in California. It’s a wonderful combination!

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True to their name, they actually do whistle. Mallards quack. These birds whistle. When the whole flock took to the water, they clustered around each other and kept up a sweet cacophony of whistles.

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I suspect this is a family flock, because two of them have the bright orange bills and the rest are a paler pink, which makes me think they are this year’s juveniles.

  • The whistling-ducks were formerly known as tree-ducks, but only a few, such as the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck actually perch or nest in trees. They look most like ducks, but their lack of sexual dimorphism, relatively long-term pair bonds, and lack of complex pair-forming behavior more resembles geese and swans. — Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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According to eBird, it is a rare species for this area. I did my duty and added it to my eBird citizen science observations.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

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