Panther Island Adventures!

Panther Island is 2,800 acres of restored wetland and upland habitats situated in the northwest corner of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's 13,000 acres. It is home to numerous plants and animals including the Florida panther and the iconic wood stork.
The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Critter of the Week Oct. 10: Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis )

During the summer months, I must admit I sometimes get down and out while working because of the heat and bugs. But the wildlife keeps me smiling...especially our year-round resident black-bellied whistling ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis). These medium-sized ducks have long necks and long, pink legs, and imagine this...a black belly. I readily identify them in my area from their red bills. In flight, one can see a large white patch their wings. Their call is a wheezy and musical whistling, quite distinctive!
These ducks nest in tree cavities or boxes near water. Often one sees them in large flocks. I typically see them along the edge of the flow-way in flocks ranging from 2-10. The largest flock I have counted on Panther Island is 32! They are, in fact, breeding on Panther Island as I have seen ducklings on occasion.
Black-bellied whistling ducks forage on grass, grain, insects, mollusks, and aquatic plants. Behaviorally, they actually resemble swans and geese in that they lack sexual dimorphism (visual difference between males and females of the same species), form pretty long pair-bonds, and have relatively simple pair-forming behavior.


  1. In my days as a grad student in Gainesville, hunting ring necked ducks occupied some cool dark mornings. Their wings whistled when the came into the ponds and that was always around dawn. I was no good at shooting but managed to bag a few. On one particular trip the ducks almost got me. Probably poetic justice. Here's a link to the tale:
    I haven't hunted for 30 or more years now, and as a field biologist find looking for,finding and conserving wildlife far more satisfying. Thanks for your fine blog.

  2. Thanks Woody S. I am glad you enjoy my blog and am glad you find such enjoyment in the conservation side now. :-)