About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bufflehead: Black and white duck

Hi! Are Bufflehead ducks common in Michigan? My husband spotted a male/ female pair in our pond and they've been here all day! Its fun to watch them... Will they stick around? ~ Bellevue, MI

Buffleheads can winter in mid-Michigan but they nest in Alaska and Canada. They usually begin to migrate to their breeding grounds from early March to early May. After nesting you may see them again in late September.

The Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) is the smallest diving duck in North America. They weigh about one pound and are about 13–16 inches long. Adult males are striking black and white, with iridescent green and purple heads with a large white patch behind the eye. Females are grey-toned with a smaller white patch behind the eye and a light underside. Their name is derived from “buffalo-head”, referring to the large, round head of the male when he puffs out his head feathers.

Unlike many ducks, they are mostly monogamous, often remaining with the same mate for several years. They nest almost exclusively in holes excavated by Northern Flickers or in nest boxes, lined with downy feathers from chest of female. Similar birds that do nest in mid-Michigan are the Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) and Wood Duck (Aix sponsa).

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Anonymous said...

Interesting, it's the first time I've seen this type of duck in our pond to and been here for over 20 years. We'll have to see how long the pair stays. We live in Coopersville, MI.

Anonymous said...

We are about 2 miles from the St. Clair River were there are a lot of these ducks, but this is the first time in 18 years a pair is in our pond. China, Michigan

Lou Brederson said...

just seen a pair on my lake.... I also have never seen or heard of these ducks, I've been here 55 years.... S. Attleboro, Mass.

jsteffens said...

I was just looking these ducks up to see what they are. We live on Crystal Lake in Hart MI, and we have at least 10 hanging around on the lake this spring.

Anonymous said...

We saw 4 pairs on April 20/14 on the Severn River at Big Chute, Ontario.

Anonymous said...

There's are several in the Cheboygan River and Crooked Lake in Petoskey.

Kevin J. said...

Saw a few pair the past couple weeks here at Chippewa Lake, Mecosta County, east of Big Rapids. Fun to watch. They didn't seem to spook that easily, so I get to watch them for quite a bit before they fly to their next spot on the lake.

Anonymous said...

Saw a group of around 6 ducks on our lake -lived here 15 yrs never seen this breed before -In South Carolina