Category Archives: Friends of Miles

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis): Barry Kent MacKay

The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis) is normally found from the southern U.S., south through Central America into much of South America.  Whistling-ducks used to be called “tree-ducks” and indeed often perch in trees. Where they occur, they are often common and easily observed. Their numbers seem to be increasing.

With long necks and beaks and a long tarsus (“leg”) whistling-ducks are quite distinctive, and still rather duck-like in their appearance, but they don’t quack like a duck, they really do have a whistling call. Sexes are similar, and once maturity is reached, they maintain the same colours year-round.  They weigh in around 650 to 1,020 grams, or from just under one and a half pounds to about two and a quarter pounds. As is so true of so many bird species, there is a degree of individual variation in colour and pattern but always they are quite distinctive in appearance and easy to identify. 

Unlike most ducks, this species is monogamous, pairs often maintaining strong bonds over the years. Both work on nest building, incubating the eggs, and caring for the young. They nest tree cavities and will use nest boxes.  A couple of days after hatching the ducklings leap to the ground, and can start feeding and swimming immediately, staying under the watchful control of parents for up to eight weeks. In fall and winter the species sometimes accumulates in social flocks, consuming a wide variety of plant matter, as well as small animals such as tadpoles and various invertebrates.

This is an oil painting, on compressed hardboard, 12 X 9 inches.

Barry Kent MacKay

Bird Artist, Illustrator

Studio: (905) 472 9731

Purchase, print, product info: https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/barry-mackay 

mimus@sympatico.ca

31 Colonel Butler Drive

Markham, ON L3P 6B6 Canada