Bufflehead are one of our most amusing ducks.  The simple black-and-white plumage of the male Bucephela albeola might appear bland but not if you see one well and in the sun in which case the iridescence on its head shines.  Bufflehead also have rather shockingly pink feet which they deploy like landing gear as they come to their clumsy landings.  Watching a flock rocket overhead as they go to roost for the night is perhaps my favorite way to see Bufflehead though I must say I also enjoy watching an entire flock dive down beneath the surface leaving only ripples on the water.  It is also entertaining to watch them launch themselves straight into the air from the surface of the water like a puddle duck would instead of running across the surface to get airborne like most divers do.

Bufflehead are the smallest of North America’s diving ducks.  They breed across Canada and Alaska’s boreal forest near ponds and lakes, using nest holes made by woodpeckers, almost exclusively flickers.  In winter most head to the coasts though some stay inland on open water.  Because of is huge range and large and growing population it is classified as a Species of Least Concern, great news for those who like to feel the gaze of the Bufflehead upon them.

All of the shots in this post were taken on 1 March 2011 at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge’s West Pond as the sun was going down.  Enjoy.

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.