The Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) is the smallest diving duck in Canada. It displays a big puffed head, a steep forehead, and a short beak. The drake has a white body, a shiny black back, and has a big white spot on the back of its head. The female is duller and the side of its head is marked with a small white ovum. The young and eclipsed males look like the female. In flight, the drake displays a long white square patch from one side of its wing to the other, however, the female has a smaller white patch on her secondary wing feathers.
In limited colony, the bufflehead is present all over the country, from east to west, from Alaska to Ontario. It usually winters in the United States and it migrates south in late autumn.
Being restless little ducks, they sometimes rest by group on water. When they are not looking for food, they proudly smooth their feathers or do a courtship parade. During winter, this duck spends time on preserved shallow waters like coves, estuaries, and muddy lagoons.
When it comes to reproduction, the bufflehead prefers locations that are on the borders of small ponds often in the midst of wooded areas. It rarely nests nearby large rivers or big lakes fearing big fish that voluntarily eat small ducklings.
The drake of this species does many courtship parades, but the females only react to buffleheads a year older than they are. When they arrive to the breeding site, the bufflehead couples are already together. The female lays 5 to 14 eggs at time intervals of 24 hours in a tree hole or in a deserted woodpecker's nest. It sits on the eggs for about 30 days. Starting in mid June, the chicks are born. Between 24 and 36 hours of life, the little ones are brought to the stretch of water by their mother. The female takes care of the ducklings for a month and leaves the nest just before the mutation period. At 7 or 8 month old, the ducklings fly for the first time.
Finally, the bufflehead dives to feed. It mostly eats arthropods, insect larvae, and small crustaceans (shrimps, crabs, and amphipods). During autumn and winter, it adds aquatic plant seeds, small snails, and soft water quahogs to its diet.
Bufflehead and Duckling on a Base
Bufflehead Drakes on a Base
Bufflehead Duck on a Base
Bufflehead Duck on a Branch
Bufflehead Ducks on a Base