Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Black-bellied Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)


French: Dendrocygne à ventre noir German: Rotschnabel-Pfeifgans Spanish: Suirirí piquirrojo
Other common names: Black-bellied Tree Duck

Anas autumnalis


, 1758,



Origin of type specimen unclear, leading to confusion over correct allocation of nominate subspecies autumnalis; S race has been labelled discolor, with N race then as nominate#R, but re-examination of the literature indicates that autumnalis should be applied to S population, with N population then named fulgens#R#R#R. N race is distinctive, lacking grey lower breast to hindcollar, but other differences apparently minor. Races intergrade in Panama. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. a. fulgens Friedmann, 1947 – Northern Black-bellied Whistling-duck – SE Arizona and SE Texas (S USA) S to C Panama.
  • D. a. autumnalis (Linnaeus, 1758) – Southern Black-bellied Whistling-duck – C Panama to South America, S to Ecuador and N Peru in the W and N Argentina in the E.
  • Descriptive notes

    43–53 cm; 530–890 g (nominate), male 680–907 g, female 652–1021 g (fulgens). Unmistakable. Sexes alike, but male may have slightly darker... read more


    Whistling “pee-chee-chee”, uttered particularly vociferously in flight and becomes an almost... read more


    Favours tropical lagoons with some tree cover at margins, being found on lakes, reservoirs, stock... read more

    Food and feeding

    Eminently vegetarian, basically grass and seeds (grain) form overwhelmingly majority of diet in most studies, with 92% in Texas and 97% in... read more


    Season variable according to locality; in S USA starts in late Apr/early May and continues into late Aug/early Sept; small young Dec on... read more


    Partially migratory. Northernmost breeding areas largely deserted in winter, which birds presumably... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and common; northern subspecies alone estimated to number between 100,000 and 1,000,000 birds, while the southern... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Black-bellied Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 April 2020).