Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Male Bufflehead

Buffleheads are the smallest of the ducks being just a little over a foot long. Females appear darker and have a small oval, white "ear" patch. Males appear much lighter with a large portion of their body being white. They also have a larger patch of white on the back half of their head making them easy to identify.  The dark part of the male head most often appears to be black (like the male on the right) but, in the right light, a sheen is visible which can take on a rainbow of colors (like the male on the left).

Their name derives from an old English word, "buffle," after which the buffalo is also named.  This is a pretty good view of the buffles on the sides of it's head.

Am I cute, or what? What colors appear just depend upon how the iridescence is reflected off the head.

Buffleheads are cavity nesters, often nesting in old woodpecker nests.

Their diet consists of small fish, insects, amphipods and mollusks. In this location, they often surface with a mollusk and you can see them cracking the shells open. Seagulls will often harass them, trying to steal their food.

Good bye! They are in the class of ducks called, "diving ducks." They dive in relatively shallow water. The waters where these photos are taken is probably no more than fifteen feet deep.  They are not considered a stiff-tailed duck, but notice how he is using his tail as a prop as he dives.

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