This short-billed diving duck is called a
bufflehead because its high, rounded head looks a
bit too large and puffy for its body. The
smallest duck in North America, the bufflehead is
only 13 to 16 inches long, and has a wingspan of
no more than 22 inches. Males are larger than
Breeding males are white underneath and have a
white patch on the top of the head; females are
dark brown with pale gray underneath and a less
distinct head patch.
Buffleheads are found in boreal forests and
aspen parklands of Canada
and Alaska, especially in
British Columbia and Alberta. Their non-breeding
range extends through the continental United
States into northern Mexico. They prefer small
lakes or permanent freshwater ponds with no
outlet. They will nest in prairie habitats only
when stands of trees and water are present close
Unlike most ducks, buffleheads form long-term
They prefer to nest in old woodpecker nests or
in other high tree holes, but will nest in holes
in dirt banks near water if no tree nests are
available. Eggs are laid in early May, with an
average clutch containing 6 to 11 eggs, laid at
the rate of one every two or three days. They are
incubated by the female alone for 28 to 33 days.
The mother leads her ducklings to water after the
first day. Despite the long-term mating bond, the
male takes no part in the raising of the young.
Buffleheads feed primarily on freshwater and
saltwater invertebrates, but will also take some
Habits and Behaviors
Buffleheads walk on dry land only when leading
their young to water.
Despite its somewhat awkward looks, the
bufflehead is actually a graceful bird. It takes
flight by running on the water, flying low and
gradually gaining height.
To dive, a bufflehead pulls its plumage tight
into its body and, with a powerful thrust,
preceded by a slight forward and upward leap,
plunges downward. It propels itself under the
water using its feet, and "pops" back
to the surface much like a cork bobber.
genus & species Bucephala albeola
All About Birds http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bufflehead/id
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Bucephala_albeola/
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