The bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) is a small sea duck of the genus Bucephala, the Goldeneyes.
The genus name is derived from Ancient Greek boukephalos, “bullheaded,” from bous, “bull ” and kephale, “head”, a reference to the oddly bulbous head shape of the species.
The Bufflehead ranges from 32–40 cm (13–16 in) long and weighs 270–550 g (9.5–19.4 oz), with the drakes larger than the females. Averaging 35.5 cm (14.0 in) and 370 g (13 oz), it rivals the green-winged teal as the smallest American duck.
Adult males are striking black and white, with iridescent green and purple heads and a large white patch behind the eye. Females are grey-toned with a smaller white patch behind the eye and a light underside. [Wikipedia]
A buoyant, large-headed duck that abruptly vanishes and resurfaces as it feeds, the tiny Bufflehead spends winters bobbing in bays, estuaries, reservoirs, and lakes. Males are striking black-and-white from a distance. A closer look at the head shows glossy green and purple setting off the striking white patch. Females are a subdued gray-brown with a neat white patch on the cheek. Bufflehead nest in old woodpecker holes, particularly those made by Northern Flickers, in the forests of northern North America. [All About Birds]
Bufflehead Facts [All About Birds]
- Unlike most ducks, the Bufflehead is mostly monogamous, often remaining with the same mate for several years.
- Bufflehead fossils from the late Pleistocene (about 500,000 years ago) have been found in Alaska, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, and Washington. One California fossil that resembles a modern Bufflehead dates to the late Pliocene, two million years ago.
- Bufflehead normally lives only in North America, but in winter they occasionally show up elsewhere, including Kamchatka, Japan, Greenland, Iceland, the British Isles, Belgium, France, Finland, and Czechoslovakia. In some of these cases, the birds may have escaped from captivity.
- The oldest Bufflehead on record was at least 18 years and 8 months old. It was caught and re-released by a bird bander in New York in 1975.