1/18/2023 4:40:00 PM Whistling Ducks are on the move across North America
Hear strange “whistling” noises in the sky? You’ve just been privileged to hear a flock of “Whistling Ducks” on their way to their next destination! These beautiful ducks are described by FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) as having “red bills, pink feet, white wing patches and black bellies, with a white eye-ring on a brownish-gray head”. The males and females look the same. They are now a relatively common bird in Florida and their range has been expanding from South America and Mexico and they are now also found in Arizona and Texas. In the past, they were known as “Tree Ducks” because they perch and nest in trees. However, other characteristics, including their relatively long pair bonds (sometimes for life) and the males and females look alike, put them more in the group with geese and swans. While they will nest on the ground in grass or brush areas, they most often nest in tree cavities where the female will lay relatively large clutches – as many as 13 eggs, although many will not survive. Incubation is about a month and the ducklings (black and white striped with a blue beak) can jump to the ground and forage with their parents in a day or two. They are fully fledged in about 2 months. In addition to tree cavities, they have been known to nest in chimneys, barns, and nest boxes. They often feed at night and retire to tree perches during the day. Their diet consists primarily of seeds, grasses and grains, but can include some insects, snails and other invertebrates. As a species, the Whistlers are doing well as they adapt to human-altered land use. Threats are mainly loss of habitat and poor water quality. So…when you hear a whistle – look up – and enjoy the graceful and beautiful Whistling Duck! Shared by the Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida. Information from: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “All About Birds”, Audubon, “Wild South Florida”.