Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More birds at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

with 19 comments

How about the long common name black-bellied whistling duck and the scientific name Dendrocygna autumnalis (whose genus confusingly means tree swan)? We saw a group of those birds at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge on October 6th. A quintet that I watched placidly gliding by reminded me of a longer single file I’d seen two years earlier in Alberta. (Click each picture to enlarge.)

As for those buds rising from the water on erect stalks, they’re Nymphaea elegans, called tropical water lilies. I’ll devote a future post to them in their own right.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 29, 2019 at 4:44 AM

19 Responses

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  1. Great shot of the single file duck family! I think it is worth having it printed out and decorating your living room, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    October 29, 2019 at 9:51 AM

    • Ah, if I printed out all the pictures I’m fond of, there wouldn’t be enough room on all the walls in our house to put them up. A dozen or so are on display now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 29, 2019 at 9:59 AM

  2. These images are just ducky. It’s nice that you got a shot at an angle that shows how the bird got its name. Did it whistle a familiar tune?

    Steve Gingold

    October 29, 2019 at 5:18 PM

  3. I DO have to visit Texas, Steve, that elegant Duck would be a life bird for me. 😊


    October 29, 2019 at 9:47 PM

    • You can’t duck your responsibility to see one. Remember what Davy Crockett is reputed to have said to people in Tennessee: “You can go to hell, I’m going to Texas!”

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 30, 2019 at 6:35 AM

  4. Naming a ‘favorite’ always is hard, but I can’t resist the ‘whistlers,’ as many call them. Whistlers’ mothers are attentive and seemingly tolerant of their youngsters’ antics, and the young birds can be hilarious as they chase one another around and squabble. The Cornell site calls them ‘boisterous.’ They tend to call in flight, which makes it easier to track them down in the marshes, and those calls can carry quite a distance.

    I’d never thought about the meaning of the scientific name, but I’ve seen them perching in trees, and various sites say they’ll nest there, too.


    October 30, 2019 at 6:11 AM

  5. I am proud to say that this is a yard duck, and we hear their whistles every morning, evening, and throughout the day. There is a fecund pair that hangs out daily in our creek — 14 babes. It makes me tired watching them!

    This species is indicative of a slowly northward moving range (since the 50’s), no doubt adapting to a warming latitude. No longer a Mexican duck, they are along the Upper Texas Gulf Coast year ‘round now.


    October 30, 2019 at 6:13 AM

    • Given that you have these ducks in your yard and get to hear them whistling a lot, have you been able to distinguish any different types of whistling that might correlate with specific meanings?

      I’m sure you’re happy to have removed the 1 from the 14 when it comes to your own babes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 30, 2019 at 7:48 AM

  6. They have a distinctive silhouette…I’ve never seen one but I remember them from the field guides. Very nice.


    November 3, 2019 at 12:21 PM

    • You’re ahead of me. This species was new in my experience—which could be said of most birds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 3, 2019 at 1:33 PM

  7. […] few posts back you saw ducks gliding on a pond at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge on October 6th. Near those ducks I photographed […]

  8. This isn’t a duck we see here. I love ducks. And water lilies.


    November 20, 2019 at 9:22 AM

    • I don’t think it’s a duck that frequents Austin, either. We do have water lilies, but not the species shown here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 20, 2019 at 5:12 PM

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