Living on one of Brownsville's beautiful resacas allows us to view many forms of wildlife, literally in our own backyard. Numerous species of insects, birds, mammals and even reptiles have taken time to visit us as they move along the natural corridors the resacas provide through the city. Our latest visitors are a large flock of Black-bellied whistling ducks.
The Black-bellied whistling duck is native to tropical Central and South America and has steadily moved northward in it's range to deep south Texas. Sightings seasonally in the desert southwest and in southeast Louisiana are a welcome sign that their range and numbers continue to expand.
This particular flock arrived on our resaca last week, just prior to our last cold front. What convenient timing considering I had just begun putting food in the bird feeders for our winter friends from the north. Now, without fail, they wait for me to put out food each morning. First comes the unmistakable noisy whistling that echos along the entire resaca. Then they congregate just outside the fence that separates the yard from the water (put up to keep BIG DOGS from tumbling into the resaca). They then take turns on the fence, almost jockeying for position. Finally, the procession begins into the yard, one after the other, until the entire flock is inside the fence.
Now it really gets interesting. How do they get the food from a small feeder you ask? They actually take turns flying up to the feeder to tip it, spilling seed onto the ground. And several times, including today, I've found the bottom of the feeder on the ground. How they've mastered this technique is beyond me but with one lucky hit, the bottom drops out and the entire contents of the feeder is on the ground for the morning feast.
I don't know how long this flock will stick around our yard but I hope they stay awhile. They're becoming braver day by day and have even come all the way around the pool to just outside the back patio where they watch me watch them. It's almost as if they're asking, "Can't you give us just a little more food?" Now that I think about it, it's a good thing Darlene works all day. She would probably already have them eating INSIDE the house, next to By-Tor!
Early morning light casts a perfect silhouette of Black-bellied whistling ducks waiting for their daily feeding.
Hey! I was here first!
The flock converges on the pool. Note the two on the bird bath and the one on top of the chair! The unmistakable yellow breast and black mask of a Greater Kiskadee can be seen on the fence in the left of the photo.
After emptying the feeder, part of the flock moves closer to the house, patiently waiting for a re-fill.