Bird Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Bucephala albeola


Distinguishing Features - The Bufflehead is a small, compact diving duck, with a short neck and a short narrow grey bill. Males are larger than females. Breeding males have a black head marked with purple and green, along with a black back and wings. They are white underneath, as well as having a white patch over their head from their eyes covering their ear region. Females are dark brown with pale grey underneath and a less distinct white head patch.

Bufflehead Habitat

Nearctic: The Bufflehead ranges mainly through boreal forests and aspen parklands of Canada and Alaska, with the highest density in British Columbia and Alberta. Their nonbreeding range extends through the contential United States into Northern Mexico.


Buffleheads dive for food in open, shallow water, which they swallow while still underwater. Diet includes both freshwater and saltwater aquatic invertebrates such as insects, crustaceans, and molluscs; also seeds of pondweeds and bulrushes.


Buffleheads walk on dry land only when leading their young to water. They take flight by running on water, flying low over water and higher over land. Diving Buffleheads are an interesting spectacle; they pull their plumage tight into their body, and with a powerful thrust, preceeded by a slight forward and upward leap, they plunge downward. They use only their feet for propulsion under the water and appear to bob like a cork back to the surface of the water.

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