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Black-Bellied Whistling Duck

Though it originated from Mexico, Central, and South America, the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck doesn’t speak with a Spanish accent. Formerly a rare visitor to South Carolina, this noisy bird—sometimes called the “whistling duck”—now nests in the Lowcountry.

With its long pinkish legs, peculiar appearance, and odd habits, the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck was once described by an early ornithologist as “most un-duck-like.” Formerly known as the Black-Bellied Tree Duck, this feathery friend is called pato maizal (“cornfield duck”) in Mexico, due to its habit of visiting fields after the harvest.

The Black-Bellied Whistling Duck was first sighted with young in 1993 in the nearby ACE Basin, where several hundred pair now nest. These ducks also nest on Brays Island, most likely in natural tree cavities and perhaps in some of our many wood duck nest boxes.
Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks are typically non-migratory, and therefore, they are one of few waterfowl species that spend the entire year on the Plantation. The best place to see these special birds is perched on snags at Scott’s Pond or wading and feeding in our shallow impoundments and flooded horse paddocks.