Bufflehead

Bucephala albeola

Order

ANSERIFORMES

Family

Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Code 4

BUFF

Code 6

BUCALB

ITIS

Egg Color:

Creamy yellow, light olive buff or pale buff.



Number of Eggs:

8 - 10



Incubation Days:

28 - 33



Egg Incubator:

Female



Nest Location:

In tree.



Nest Material:

No material added to nest.



Migration:

Migratory



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General

Bufflehead: Small diving duck, mostly white with glossy green-black to purple-black head and back. Head has large white patch behind eye. Wings are dark with white patches. Female has dark brown head with oval-shaped patch on ear coverts, dark brown-black back and tail and dark brown-gray wings with white secondaries, brown-gray flanks and a dull white belly and breast, blue-gray bill, legs and feet. Juvenile is like the female, but duller and brown with a smaller white head patch. First winter male is darker overall.

Range and Habitat

Bufflehead: Breeds in Alaska and in Canada east to western Quebec, and south in the mountains to Washington, California and Montana. Spends winters along the Atlantic to northern Florida and across the southern U.S., and south to Mexico and the Gulf coast. Preferred habitats include lakes, ponds, saltwater bays, and estuaries.

Breeding and Nesting

Bufflehead: These ducks are monogamous, and the females return to the same breeding site year after year. They nest in cavities, usually the nestboxes or cavitives excavated by Northern Flickers. Egg laying occurs in May, and females incubate and care for the young alone. About one day after hatching, she leads them to water so that they can forage for food.

Foraging and Feeding

Bufflehead: These birds feed in open, shallow water. They are the smallest of the diving ducks. Their diet includes insects, crustaceans, mollusks and seeds. They dive from the surface for food. Prey is swallowed underwater.

Vocalization

Bufflehead: Male Bufflehead makes a squeaky whistle; female has a soft, hoarse quack.

Similar Species

Bufflehead: Hooded Merganser is larger, has brown sides, spike-like bill that hooks at tip, and large head crest that can be lowered or fanned. Ruddy Duck has longer tail and bill.

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BellyX
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
BreastX
The upper front part of a bird.
SecondariesX
Flight feathers that are attached to the wing in the area similar to the human forearm and between the body and the primaries.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X