Date and Effort
Fri Apr 22, 2005 3:15 PM
- Party Size:
- 20 minute(s)
- Michael Hilchey
- These five birds were seen on the seasonal road at Basque Del Apache NWR by Sondra Williamson and myself. The birds were no more than 15 yards away from use and were viewed through a 25x Bushnell scope. Sondra and I both immediately identified the birds as Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks as soon as we saw them. All five were nervously standing near the bank under the shade of a tree. They were all very alert the entire time we viewed them and were still present when we left.
The birds were small ducks about the size of a wigeon but with different proportions. They were obviously Whistling-ducks given their very long necks and legs, short tails, square heads, and smallish overall size. They were strikingly bright and attractive. Their bills were bright orange with white tips. Their faces and throats were gray. The rest of their heads and necks were deep brown with some ruddy tones, the birds breast, backs, and scapulars were also this color. Their Iris''s were dark and they had obvious white eye rings. What was visible of the folded wings was the off-white color that is on the base of all the remiges. The bellies, flanks, vents, and tails of the birds were all black. Their legs were dull pink. All five birds were adults.
Identification of these birds was simple because Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks are unmistakable. The only other bird that someone might confuse with a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in NM is Fulvous Whistling-Duck because it is the only other bird that might be encountered in NM that has a similar structure. Fulvous Whistling-Ducks are much lighter colored overall having no brown or black except on the wings. They have dark bills and legs; light under-parts, neck, and head; and completely dark wings. These two species have almost nothing in common when it comes to plumage so practically all the plumage characteristics that were listed in the previous paragraph eliminate Fulvous Whistling-Duck.
Are you submitting a complete checklist of the birds you were able to identify?