Bufflehead Duck

Bufflehead Duck (Bucephala albeola)

Bufflehead Duck

             Bufflehead Duck

Zoo collection includes: two

Found in the wild: Breeds in Alaska and in Canada east to western Quebec, and south in the mountains to Washington and Montana. Spends winters along the Atlantic to northern Florida and across the southern U.S., and south to Mexico and the Gulf coast. Preferred habitats include lakes, ponds, saltwater bays, and estuaries.  You can see them in Central Park too.

See Them at the Central Park Zoo: In the Penguin House with the Tufted Puffins

Description: 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).
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What do they eat:  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.

Life span: About 13 years.

Threats: Habitat loss

Fun 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 like to nest in tree cavities and in nest boxes. They usually use tree holes made by northern flickers and pileated woodpeckers.  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.  They are usually monogamous.


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