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  • Writer's pictureTerry Wise

Not Bobblehead! Bufflehead!

We had visitors to Carillon Stonegate Pond this morning.

Two Bufflehead ducks were floating on our pond. The Bufflehead is the smallest diving or sea duck in North America. The name buffalo head, or "bufflehead" is a direct reference to the duck's large-headed appearance.

Buffleheads are small, chubby ducks that are a striking black-and-white from a distance. Male Buffleheads have a white body and underbelly, black back, and a large, dark head with a large white patch. However, up close, you can see the glossy, iridescent green and purple coloring of their head. This sets off their distinguishing large white patch which extends from the nape of the neck to the crown of the head. Males have blue-gray bills and pink webbed feet. Female Buffleheads are a subdued gray-brown with a neat white patch on the cheek.

These fishermen and fisherwomen are fun to observe. They will alternate floating on the sunny pond's blue waters. Then they will dive below the surface looking for breakfast. Bufflehead dive to hunt for aquatic invertebrates, crustaceans, and mollusks; typically swallowing their food while still underwater. And they will repeat this activity every twenty (20) seconds or so throughout the day.

Buffleheads are “secondary-cavity nesters.” They nest almost exclusively in holes excavated by Northern Flickers. Most breeding is done between late April and mid-May up in central Canada. They migrate relatively late in fall, while their spring migration is protracted over long period. They migrate in small flocks and mostly at night.

Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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