10 Interesting Facts about the Bufflehead | Withme Photography Blog

The Bufflehead is always a treat to come upon. With it’s distinctive white and black head, they are easy to spot as they sit on the water. Unfortunately, like all ducks, they are not as easy to get close to for a picture.

Here are a few things that I found interesting about the Bufflehead.

  • The name Bufflehead is a combination of the words “buffalo” and “head”, referring to the oddly bulbous head shape of the species. This is most noticeable when the male puffs out the feathers on the head.
  • The Bufflehead’s breeding habitat is wooded lakes and ponds in Alaska and Canada.
  • These diving birds forage underwater. They prefer water depths of 4 to 15 ft. In freshwater habitats they eat primarily insects, and in saltwater they feed predominantly on crustaceans and mollusks

Bufflehead in Flight

Bufflehead in Flight

  • Buffleheads are highly active and will undertake dives almost continuously. One duck will serve as a sentry, watching for predators as the others in the group dive in search of food.
  • Unlike many ducks, Buffleheads are mostly monogamous, often remaining with the same mate for several years.
  • Buffleheads nest in cavities of trees, primarily aspens or poplars, usually utilizing old Flicker nests.
  • The average clutch size for a Bufflehead is 9. Incubation averages 30 days, and nest success is high (79% in one study) compared to ground-nesting species like the Teal. A day after the last duckling hatches the brood leaps from the nest cavity.
  • Predators of adult Buffleheads include the Peregrine Falcon, Snowy Owl, Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Great Horned Owl, Eurasian Eagle Owl and Cooper’s Hawk.
  • Buffleheads tend not to collect in large flocks; groups are usually limited to small numbers.
  • Because of their striking plumage, highly active nature and their close proximity to humans, Buffleheads are one of the most popular birds amongst bird watchers. For these reasons and others, they are the first species of ducks to be boldly displayed on a Coat of Arms.

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