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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