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black-bellied whistling-duck

black-bellied whistling-duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)
Photo © Suzanne Asaturian

Features and Behaviors

The black-bellied whistling-duck has long, pink legs and a long neck. The feathers are rust-red on the breast, back of the neck and top of the head. The feathers on the sides of the face are gray. The belly feathers are black. There is a white patch of feathers on the forewing. The bill is red-pink. The immature bird has a gray bill and legs.

This species perches in trees. It makes a high-pitched call. Black-bellied whistling-ducks are native to Texas, Louisiana and the other Gulf Coast states as well as further south into Central America. They have been expanding their range northward and now nest as close to Illinois as Tennessee. It is possible to see them anywhere in Illinois, especially as they travel along large rivers. They eat aquatic plants and are often seen at ponds and places of short grasses, like golf courses and lawns, and in farm fields. They feed at night.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae

Illinois Status: common, nonnative