Photo of the Week: Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Rare Bird in Ohio and Michigan

What a pleasant surprise as the rare Black-bellied Whistling Duck was spotted recently in our southeast Michigan/northwest Ohio area.

And I managed to see it in Ohio and Michigan in the same week!

The birding community in Michigan and Ohio have been chatting about the Black-bellied Whistling Duck for the past month, since one of its first sightings along the Lake Erie shoreline in Ohio a month ago.

The rare duck has been spotted a few times in the past few years in early summer in Ohio, and sometimes in Michigan.

This year, the duck at was seen at the American Center Marsh in Southfield, Michigan, a county first.

Which brought people from all over Michigan trekking to the boardwalk in Oakland County to search for the bird.

Yes, I was one of them!

Not surprised to find it in the shade of the cottonwood trees, along with a dozen Mallards, staying out of the heat of the sun.

Which made it difficult to capture a photo of the bird.

Not the same in Ohio, where I saw another Black-bellied Whistling Duck four days later, hanging out with Mallards on the front lawn of a home near Port Clinton, Ohio.

Isn’t it a beauty?

I’m adding it to my list of rare birds seen in Michigan in the past three years:

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Black-bellied Whistling Duck brilliant pink bill and black belly are easy to spot.

The large pink-billed and pink-legged duck with chestnut breast and black belly typically breeds in Texas, parts of Florida, and the Mexico border.

Which makes it an unusual duck to see this far north of its breeding area.

I didn’t hear it whistling at either location, but you can listen to its calls on the All About Birds website.

During migration, the bird flies a short distance south (short, compared to warblers who migrate from Canada to South America) to Mexico, Central America, and South America.

As you might guess, the Black-bellied Whistling Duck is a life bird (first time seen) for me!

duck crouches down as it feeds from the pond.

Photo of author

About the Author

Deborah Edwards-Onoro helps small businesses, consultants, nonprofits, and higher ed with creative and distinctive websites. Deborah shares her expertise with web design, user experience, and accessibility on her blog, social media, and at meetup events. As organizer of Refresh Detroit, West Metro Detroit WordPress, and Metro Detroit WordPress, she encourages members to share their knowledge and experiences. In her free time, you'll find her birding, shooting photos, reading, or watching tennis.

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