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Bufflehead - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Forcreeks
Marina Del Rey, California, USA, 26 February 2004
Bucephala albeola


Photo © by Joseph+Morlan
San Francisco, California, USA, 5 February 2021

32-40 cm (12½-15¾ in)

  • Glossy black head (can look blue, green or purple depending on the light) with large white patch
  • Black back
  • White breast, stomach, and flanks
  • Bluish bill


  • Brown body
  • Paler underparts
  • Brown head
  • White patch behind eye

Males acquire a female-like "eclipse" plumage in the summer.


Photo © by CurtMorgan
Bearskin Neck, Rockport, Massachusetts, USA, 12 January 2010

United States, Alaska and Canada. Winters to Mexico and Greater Antilles


This is a monotypic species[1].


Small ponds and lakes with surrounding woodland. Winters on small ponds, lakes, and rivers inland, also in shallow bays and estuaries along the coasts.



They nest in tree cavities. The 5-10 eggs are incubated for 28-33 days; the young fledge at 45-55 days.


The diet includes crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic plants and fish eggs. It feeds by submerging and obtaining food underwater.


Males give a loud grating or chattering noise. Females have a loud, rapid, guttural call.


This is a migratory species.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. South Dakota Birds and Birding
  3. Gauthier, G. (2020). Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.buffle.01

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.