Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (BBWDs) can be found year-round here in Florida, across much of the rest of the southern U.S., and throughout Central and South America. (eBird)
They are frankly always handsome, but during the breeding season, they seem especially scrupulous about preening and bathing and looking their best! 😉
These charming birds are endlessly photogenic and often seem to pose to show off their best side!
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks “form lifelong pair bonds and breed in their first year of life” (All About Birds). I can’t help but wonder if this young pair are a committed couple, considering how the stronger one seemed to be looking out for the friend with the foot injury.☺️
Aptly described by Audubon.org as “spectacularly marked, sociable, [and] noisy”, a flock of BBWD’s whistling as they fly overhead make “a lovely and vibrant spectacle, with unique sound effects” (Bird Note).
“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.” When nesting on the ground, they “typically don’t build a nest; they lay their eggs directly on whatever debris has collected there,” in a sort of shallow grassy bowl. They also take readily to natural tree cavities and nest boxes (All About Birds).
The shy little one peeking out here is a great example! (Interestingly, this nesting box was filled to overflowing with honeybees before this Whistling Duck moved in!)