Black-bellied Whistling Duck
These ducks were one of my first species I ever identified way back when my favorite birding spots was Lafreniere Park in Metairie, LA. They were so ubiquitous, when I thought “duck”, this is what I thought of, even before a mallard. According to the 1952 “Louisiana Birds” by George Lowery, these guys are a relatively “new” species to the United States, although they aren’t invasive. Their range has just expanded over the years.
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (Mexican squealers, Mexican tree ducks as I have heard them referred to) are semi-permanent residents in the New Orleans area as of 2014. Incredibly large flocks can be found in winter in urban parks such as Lafreniere Park, Audubon Park, City Park and Kenner Park where they cover everything in duck poop and their squawk is deafening. These ducks can also be seen year round in the marshes and swamps around New Orleans.
This summer, I saw Black-bellied whistling ducks in Bayou Corne, Houma, Bayou Sauvage and I even found a mother with ducklings in the bird sanctuary in Lafreniere Park.