Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks - First Known Sighting in Hamilton, Ontario
On July 13 a group of five Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks (BBWDs) arrived in the Hamilton area. Initially found by Eric Holden, this is the first time that this species has been seen in the Hamilton Study Area. As written up in a blog post by Josh Vandermeulen here, there are only five accepted records of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks in all of Ontario, so this was indeed a rare sighting and I was thrilled to be one of the lucky observers.
In the above photo, the five BBWDs are roosting on the beach. According to Pete Dunne (Dunne, 2006), Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is mostly a coastal species. In the U.S., it breeds in southern and eastern Texas and coastal Louisiana. It is an uncommon breeder in southeastern Arizona and has recently (keep in mind Pete's book was published in 2006) established in central and southern Florida. Pete notes that BBWDs are increasingly wandering outside of their breeding areas, but as noted above, it is still very unusual to see them in Ontario.
As shown in the photo above, BBWD has a long neck, long thick legs and walks with an erect stance. According to Dunne, BBWD is among the least aquatic of waterfowl and when in water, is normally found in depths shallow enough to allow it to stand. This was certainly true during my period of observation.
Below the BBWDs swim in shallow water with a low profile.
The red bill, gray face with pale ey-ring together with a black belly and sturdy pink legs make this duck easily identified.
The ducks spent much of their time roosting on the beach during my stay. There were very few occasions when I observed any of them stretching their wings, but I did manage to capture a few photos like the ones above and below.
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Dunne, Pete, 2006. Pete Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, New York