R.J. Weiss contacted me today about a duck he shot yesterday. The duck happened to be the first one he has harvested even though he has gone duck hunting on previous occasions. The duck turned out to be a bit unusual, as can be seen in his photographs, below.
As R.J. suspected, the bird is a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. This southern species is normally found in southern Texas and points south. Populations of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks are increasing and birds occasionally wander north of their normal range. Nebraska recorded it first Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in 1989 in Clay County. That first state record was also harvested by a duck hunter. Since then, Nebraska has tallied about sixteen more records of this species. The majority of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck records are during warmer months and a December record is a bit unusual, but not unprecedented. The duck was shot on 6 December in western Douglas County.
Congratulations to R.J. on his successful and memorable inaugural duck hunt. Thanks to him for sharing his experience and photos of this notable record.
Good birding (and duck hunting)