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Black-bellied Whistling Duck - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: Black-bellied Tree-Duck, Red-billed Whistling Duck

Subspecies fulgens
Photo © by David Roach
Wakodahatchee, Florida, USA, 8 September 2004
Dendrocygna autumnalis


L. 20-22" (51-56 cm).

  • Tall, long-necked, and long-legged


  • Mainly chestnut and black
  • Red bill
  • Pink legs
  • Large white wing patch visible in flight


Similar, but much duller

Escaped captive
Photo © by gmax
Isola della Cona, Gorizia, North-eastern Italy, 21 May 2007


USA: Breeds in southern Texas and Arizona, expanding northwards and commonly found in suburban areas around Houston and Dallas. Introduced birds have bred in southern Florida. Casual vagrant to Kansas.
Rest of the Americas: Mexico through Central and South America to Argentina.



This is a polytypic species. Two subspecies are recognised1:

  • D. a. fulgens:
  • South US to Panama- Distinctive, lacking grey lower breast to hind-collar of nominate.
  • D. a. autumnalis:
  • Panama to northern Argentina (mainly east of Andes) - Lower breast and hind-collar gray.


Ducklings subspecies fulgens
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Lafitte’s Cove Nature Preserve, Galveston County, Texas, USA, 2 May 2017

Wooded or tree-lined streams and ponds.


These handsome, conspicuous birds often rest on large tree branches, stakes, or poles in the water, also on the ground, by bodies of water.


The 12-16 white eggs are placed in a tree cavity or man-made nest box without a nest lining, occasionally on the ground among reeds.


Almost entirely herbivorous, they feed in shallow water on tubers and other aquatic vegetation, as well as in grain fields.

Unlike many ducks, this species is largely nocturnal, migrating at night and resting and feeding during the day.


Squeaky whistles, often in flight.


Nominate subspecies
Photo © by Orozimbo
Lins SP Brazil, 20 July 2016
  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Restall et al Birds of Northern South America. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300124156
  3. Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Black-bellied Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/52801 on 5 July 2018).
  4. James, J. D. and J. E. Thompson (2001). Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.578

Recommended Citation

External Links

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