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Species of the Week

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Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks are locally common, year-round residents of freshwater wetlands, particularly in central Florida. Viera Wetlands, Circle B Bar Reserve and Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration Area are just a few Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail sites that provide opportunity to see this duck. They are often found in large flocks during the summer months. They look most like ducks, but their lack of sexual dimorphism (for most species the males and females look different), relatively long-term pair bonds and lack of complex pair-forming behavior more resembles geese and swans. This whistling-duck has a long neck, an orange-red bill, a distinct white eye ring, a black belly, broad white wing patches and long, orange-red legs. Their call is a very high pitched whistle. Due to its habit of perching in trees and nesting in tree cavities, this species was once known as the Black-bellied Tree Duck; like the Wood Duck they will also nest in boxes.

In 2012, many reports of this handsome duck were coming in from all over Florida. By early summer, it became apparent that Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were expanding their breeding range throughout Florida and the south-eastern United States. This expansion has continued through 2013 and 2014 and there are reports coming in from places where these ducks have not been seen in previous years.