Whistling-Ducks are large ducks typically found along the Gulf Coast. They have long legs and a long neck, similar to geese. They were previously known as Tree-Ducks. Two species are found in the United States: Fulvous Whistling Duck and Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Ranges of the two species may be expanding and there seem to be a growing number of reports along the eastern coast. The range of the Black-bellied is extending inland in Texas, and as far north as southern Oklahoma.
The two species are easy to identify.
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Fulvous Whistling-Duck — Length: 20 inches, Wingspan: 26 inches
With a distribution extending to several continents, the Fulvous Whistling-Duck is nonetheless limited to a few of the southernmost portions of the U.S. Some of these populations are migratory, with movements taking place at night. Fulvous Whistling-Duck pairs are thought to mate for life.
Much remains to be learned about the breeding ecology of the Fulvous Whistling-Duck. While the breeding season is long and it is expected that failed nests are replaced, this needs confirmation. While year-old birds are capable of breeding, it is likewise not known how frequently they actually do breed.
Distinctive species with long neck. Not easily confused with other species.
Black-bellied Whistling Duck — Length: 21 inches, Wing span: 30 inches
Broadly distributed in South and Central America, the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck’s range reaches into the southern U.S. Typically mating for life, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks nonetheless occasionally change mates, and will re-mate after the death of one of the pair.
Male and female Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks share incubation duties, and typically trade 24-hout shifts. Multiple females often lay eggs in the same nest, leading to very large clutch sizes in some cases. Such nests are less likely to hatch.
Both whistling duck species will graze contently in fields or dip over in shallow ponds to feed.