BUFFLEHEAD

BUFFLEHEAD(Bucephala albeola)
DESCRIPTION: The Bufflehead is a small diving duck. The drake has a large white patch at the back of the head, starting from the eye. The rest of the head, face and neck are iridescent green and purple. The eye is dark. The back is black, and the sides and under parts white. The wings start with black near the body, then have a white narrow band, more black and a large white band, ending with dark grey. The tail is grey. The bill is grey and the legs and feet are pink. Females have a dark brown head with a small white patch on the side under the eye, a black back and tail, and grey sides and under parts. There are two small white patches on the wings. This diving duck is around 35 cm (14 in.) long, and males are slightly larger than females.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Bucephala-albeola
NAME: It owes its name – both English and Latin – to the shape of its large head, and the Latin species name ‘albeola’ refers to the white patch on the head.
HABITAT: Buffleheads inhabit various bodies of shallow fresh or salt water, such as river estuaries, lakes, reservoirs, ponds or bays, but near appropriate woodland.
DIET: They forage under water for insects, crustaceans, molluscs, vegetation and fish eggs.
NESTING: As opposed to many other duck species, buffleheads are monogamous. Another distinction is that they choose tree cavities to build their nests, with a preference for Northern Flicker holes. For this reason they will also be attracted to nest boxes specifically built to meet their needs. An average of nine white or beige eggs are laid, which are incubated by the female. Ducklings jump out of nest after 2 days and are led to the water by the female.
DISTRIBUTION: Buffleheads breed in Alaska or in the northern Canadian forests, migrate through the country and USA. They spend the winter along the coasts, and also in the southern part of the USA and Mexico. Some individuals will end up on Hawaii for their migration.
ON PEI: The bufflehead does not breed on Prince Edward Island, and its occurrence varies depending on the seasons.
CONSERVATION: The bufflehead population appears stable overall, however there is some loss of habitat due to clear-cutting in its breeding range, which removes nesting opportunities. Clearing of its preferred forest for agriculture can also be an issue. They are also hunted at the rate of a quarter million in Canada and the USA, but this is within current regulations.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Hooded Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Barrow’s Goldeneye
REFERENCES: http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/birds/bufflehead.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bufflehead
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bufflehead/id
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/bufflehead

Bufflehead, drake - Humber Bay Park, Toronto, ON - Mar. 4, 2006 - Mdf
Bufflehead, drake – Humber Bay Park, Toronto, ON – Mar. 4, 2006 – Mdf
Bufflehead, female - Humber Bay Park, Toronto, ON - Mar. 6, 2006 - Mdf
Bufflehead, female – Humber Bay Park, Toronto, ON – Mar. 6, 2006 – Mdf
Bufflehead male in alternate plumage - San Luis Obispo, CA - Apr. 12, 2012 - Bill Bouton
Bufflehead male in alternate plumage – San Luis Obispo, CA – Apr. 12, 2012 – Bill Bouton

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