About The Bufflehead Duck

Buffleheads are small black and white diving ducks with small gray bills. They have a white patch on the side of their round heads and have white patches on their wings that are visible during flight. Buffleheads have dark brown eyes. They only weigh an average of 272-635 g (9.6-22.42 ounces) and are about 32-40 cm (13-16 in) in length.

Male and female buffleheads look very distinct with males having dark heads with a white cap behind its eyes, a black back, and white sides. Females look darker and duller by comparison with brown heads and bodies and with a smaller white patch behind their eyes. Bufflehead males also change their plumage depending on the season (whether breeding or not).

The Bufflehead Duck Nesting Preferences

Buffleheads like to nest in tree cavities and in nest boxes. They usually use tree holes made by northern flickers and pileated woodpeckers. The entrance of the holes used for nesting is usually 6-7 cm in diameter. Buffleheads prefer to nest in aspens and poplars but are also known to use pine trees. Nests made by buffleheads are lined with downy feathers that come from the chest of the female bufflehead. The female bufflehead uses the same nest site every year.

Building a Birdhouse For The Bufflehead Duck

Buffleheads like nest boxes. The recommended dimensions for a bufflehead nest box are: 7¡±x7¡± (floor), 16¡± (ceiling height), 2¨?¡± (entrance hole diameter), 14¡± (distance of the hole¡¯s top from the floor). When building a bufflehead nest box make sure that it is mounted at least 10 feet high on a tree trunk or 6 to 8 feet high if mounted on a post above water. The nest box should also be placed in forest bottomlands approximately 100 feet from a river or pond. Make sure that there are enough ventilation openings and that the roof is hinged and secured using shutter hooks. Without the hinged roof you will not be able to access the inside of the nest easily. In addition place some woodchips on the floor and use corrosion resistant screws.

The Bufflehead Duck Mating Habits

Male buffleheads often make a loud chattering noise or growl when courting. Buffleheads mate and breed for the first time during their second year. They form pair in winter or spring and, unlike most ducks, are mostly monogamous usually keeping the same mate for several years.

The Bufflehead Duck Feeding Preference

Buffleheads forage underwater by diving in open shallow waters whose depth is usually less than 3 meters. They are omnivorous and feed mostly on aquatic invertebrates, insects, crustaceans, and plants. They also sometimes eat small fish and fish eggs. In winter buffleheads eat during the day and at night.

Interesting Bufflehead Duck Facts

  • Buffleheads are the smallest diving ducks in North America. Due to their small body mass, buffleheads can achieve flight faster than other diving ducks. They take flight by running on water.
  • Buffleheads are also different from other ducks in that they lay eggs more slowly. Buffleheads usually lay eggs at an interval of two three days between eggs.
  • Buffleheads are silent ducks. They usually do not make noise except when mating (males) and when prospecting for nest sites in spring (females).