What's Moving with Madi
December 5, 2022
Caught of picture of this male bufflehead duck (Bucephala albeola) through my binoculars!
Buffleheads are sexually dimorphic animals, meaning the males and females look different from each other. Male buffleheads are a striking black and white with an iridescent green and purple on their head. While females have a brownish head and neck with a small white patch just below their eye stretching toward the back of their neck.
During the breeding season, buffleheads can be found in the boreal forest and aspen parkland of Canada and Alaska. Buffleheads nest in tree cavities made by norther flicker woodpeckers. These small ducks utilize this space as other ducks are too large to fit in the holes made by northern flickers. Occasionally they will use pileated woodpecker holes as well as artificial nest boxes. Buffleheads migrate into the United States and the Gulf of Mexico in the winter. During this time they are usually found near the coast.
Buffleheads stay with the same mate over several years, making them different from most species of ducks that find a new mate every year.
The name bufflehead is derived from "buffalo-head" since the birds have large, angular heads. However buffleheads are also known as butterballs to hunters as they are well known for putting on fat during the fall migration.
Keep an eye out for migrating birds this winter and check out these links to learn more about the Bufflehead: