W...is for Wood and Whistle!!!
Today I couldn't decide, so I chose both. Two of my favorite ducks - the Wood Duck and the Black-bellied Whistling Duck. For the longest time, I envied the photos of other photographers pictures of the Wood Duck. So, it was definitely on my bucket list! Finally, one day on an outing I discovered them in a pond in a neighborhood lake. I was beyond thrilled to say the least.
The Whistling Duck are fun to watch and they have a very distinctive sound that they make. I love watching them but their chicks can be easy targets for predators, such as alligators, which I witnessed on another one of my outings.
The Wood Duck is one of the most stunningly pretty of all waterfowl. Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the elegant females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. These birds live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins. They are one of the few duck species equipped with strong claws that can grip bark and perch on branches.
Wood Ducks have a unique shape among ducks—a boxy, crested head, a thin neck, and a long, broad tail. In flight, they hold their head up high, sometimes bobbing it. Overall, their silhouette shows a skinny neck, long body, thick tail, and short wings.
In good light, males have a glossy green head cut with white stripes, a chestnut breast and buffy sides. In low or harsh light, they'll look dark overall with paler sides. Females are gray-brown with white-speckled breast. In eclipse plumage (late summer), males lose their pale sides and bold stripes, but retain their bright eye and bill. Juveniles are very similar to females.
Look for Wood Ducks in wooded swamps, marshes, streams, beaver ponds, and small lakes. They stick to wet areas with trees or extensive cattails. As a cavity nester, Wood Ducks take readily to nest boxes.
The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a boisterous duck with a brilliant pink bill and an unusual, long-legged silhouette. In places like Texas and Louisiana, watch for noisy flocks of these gaudy ducks dropping into fields to forage on seeds, or loafing on golf course ponds. Listen for them, too—these ducks really do have a whistle for their call.
The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a large, gooselike duck with a long neck, long legs, and short tail. In flight, look for their broad wings, long neck, and hunched back. They are dark overall: a chestnut breast and black belly are set off by a bright-pink bill and legs, grayish face, and broad white wing stripe, also visible in flight. Immatures are duller than adults, with a dark bill, pale breast, and mottled black belly.
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks roam edges of shallow ponds, golf courses, city parks, and schoolyards. They also frequent agricultural fields, particularly flooded rice fields. They seem to readily adopt human-altered habitats, and this has helped them move north into the southern U.S. in recent decades.
Be blessed and be a blessing!