Illustrator Christina Mattison Ebert shares depictions and information on coastal birds
With a name that sounds like it fell out of a fairy tale, the black-bellied whistling duck is a very real Gulf Coast waterfowl species that one could just as likely spot dabbling by a golf course pond as perched on an old pier piling.
Compared with other regional duck species, black-bellied whistling ducks stand out on account of their longer legs — making them more avid walkers than most ducks — and for their eye-catching red bills. Also a unique trait of the black-bellied whistling duck is a lack of sexual dimorphisms between males and females. And keep an ear out in the evening hours, as you may hear their distinctive high-pitched calls as flocks depart roosting trees to forage in harvested agricultural fields and near shallow ponds.
FUN FACT: Females often lay eggs in the nests of other whistling ducks — a behavior known as egg-dumping.