The Bufflehead Duck (Bucephala albeola) is a small American sea duck of the genus Bucephala. They are migratory and most of them winter in protected coastal waters, or open inland waters, on the east and west coasts of North America and the southern United States. The Bufflehead is an extremely rare vagrant to western Europe. Their breeding habitat is wooded lakes and ponds in Alaska and Canada, almost entirely included in the boreal forest or taiga habitat. Buffleheads are monogamous, and the females return to the same breeding site, year after year.
Male – The male Bufflehead duck has a black head and upper neck with shades of blue, green and violet, bluish-grey beak, eyes are dark-brown, a large patch of white extend from behind the eye to the back of the head which forms a crest, upper-parts are black, lower neck and under-parts are white, and the legs and feet are pink.
Female – The female Bufflehead duck has a dark-brown head with a white patch behind and below the eye, blackish-brown upper parts, greyish-white under-parts, dark-grey beak, dark-brown eyes, and legs and feet are greyish.
Eclipse – The male in eclipse plumage is similar to the female but has a larger white patch on its face and retains its wing pattern.
Size: – Typical Adult is 12-16 inches.
Food: – Seeds, aquatic insects, aquatic plants, crustaceans, and molluscs.
Habitat: – Wooded lakes, ponds, open inland waters, and coastal waters in Alaska and Canada. Winters further south in USA and Mexico.
Breeding Season: – May to June.
Eggs: – 6 to 11 (cream to pale olive color).
Notes: – The Bufflehead duck is a small American sea duck. It gets its name because when the male puffs out his head feathers it resembles a Buffalo head. The Bufflehead nests in tree cavities particularly holes made by Northern Flickers (American woodpeckers).
The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.