The Goose Duck

Black-bellied whistling-ducks are permanent residents of South America, Central America, Mexico and southern Arizona and have long been summer residents in eastern Texas, Louisiana and southeastern Arkansas; in recent years they have become permanent residents of central Florida and have been expanding their range throughout the State and into other Southeastern States.

These tall, colorful ducks usually nest in tree cavities but may lay their eggs (up to 16) directly on the ground; in either case, little nest preparation is undertaken and females may lay eggs in one another's nests.  Unlike most other ducks, these whistling-ducks often perch in trees or on fences and, like geese, are monogamous; also like geese, males and females have the same plumage and share parenting duties.  Once established in an area, black-bellied whistling-ducks tend to be rather tame and, like Canada geese, seem to have a fondness for golf courses, where they may gather in large flocks.

Primarily herbivorous, these lanky ducks feed on a wide variety of foliage and seeds but may also consume insects and other small invertebrates; natural predators include snakes, raccoons, fox, coyotes, hawks and owls.  While many bird species are threatened by habitat loss due to development and agriculture, it is refreshing to learn that such an attractive duck has adapted well to man's assault on natural ecosystems.