Bufflehead - Anseriformes Anatidae Bucephala albeola


Identification & Description:
• Very small compact diving duck
• Very small dark gray bill
• Immature female similar to adult female, but immature male has a larger white cheek patch
• Black-and-white.
• White patch on side of head.
• Size: 32-40 cm (13-16 in)
• Wingspan: 55 cm (22 in)
• Weight: 272-635 g (9.6-22.42 ounces)

Adult male alternate:
• Alternate plumage worn from fall through early summer
• Dark glossy head
• Large white patch on the head from behind the eye
• White breast, belly and flanks
• Dark back
• Inner wing white and outer wing dark, visible in flight

Adult male basic:
• Similar to adult female but with a larger white cheek patch

Adult female:
• Dark brown head and body, breast and flanks paler
• Oval white patch on face behind eye
• White belly
• White inner secondaries and otherwise dark wing, visible in flight

Similar species:
Female Bufflehead distinguished from female Harlequin Duck by white secondaries and single white patch behind the eye.

Life History Groupings
• Migration Status: N/A
• Breeding Habitat: Wetland-open water
• Nest Type: Cavity
• Clutch Size: 6-14
• Length of Incubation: 29-31(28-33) days
• Days to Fledge: 50-55
• Number of Broods: 1
• Diet:
Primarily: Aquatic Invertebrates
Lesser Quantities of: Green Plant Matter, Seeds & Fish

• The Bufflehead nests almost exclusively in holes excavated by Northern Flickers and, on occasion, by Pileated Woodpeckers.

• Unlike most ducks, the Bufflehead is mostly monogamous, often remaining with the same mate for several years.

• The Bufflehead lays eggs more slowly than most other ducks, commonly with intervals of two or three days between eggs.

Other Names
Petit Garrot (French)
Pato chillón chico (Spanish)

The bufflehead belongs to the tribe Mergini in the family Anatidae. It is classified as Bucephala albeola.

Bufflehead, common name for a small North American diving duck. Its name is derived from “buffalo-head,” an allusion to the large size of its short-billed head, especially in males, created by especially puffy feathers. The body plumage of males is black and white above and white below, the head glossy black with a large white patch from the eye to the back edge. Females are dark brown, with a smaller white patch on the side of the head. Adults are about 38 cm (about 15 in) long. Buffleheads nest in wooded areas of Canada and the Rocky Mountains, and winter on bays, lakes, rivers, and harbors.

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