The same day in March when I saw a pair of Hooded Mergansers, I also saw several black and white ducks bobbing around in our lake like little bathtub toys. It was unusual to see two new kinds of small ducks on the same day. The Mergansers made a very brief appearance, but the Bufflehead ducks stayed in small groups for two or three days before they disappeared.
I took lots of photos, but these ducks were too small and too far away for good pictures without enlarging to show detail. I had no idea what they were until I looked them up in my bird guides.
Field Guide Descriptions of Buffleheads
My Golden guide to field identification of Birds of North America lists Mergansers and Buffleheads under a heading of Bay Ducks. My Kaufman Guide lists Buffleheads with Goldeneyes, under Diving Ducks that can swim underwater. I didn’t seem them do any diving. Descriptions for Buffleheads vary a bit between these two sources.
Kaufman: “Usually in small flocks on lakes or shallow bays in winter. Found along northern rivers and bogs in summer, often nesting in old Northern Flicker holes.” Adult male has a round black head with a white scarf. Female has gray head with white ear spot. (13.5” long)
Golden: “Summers on wooded lakes and rivers: common in winter in tidewaters, generally in loose flocks. Unlike other diving ducks, it takes off without running along the water surface.” Describes the male to have large white patch on puffy greenish head (it didn’t look greenish to me). Female has small white cheek patch. (10” long)
Thankful to be on a Migration Path
The field maps show these ducks summer in Canada and winter in our Southern states and in the West coast area. The map shows my area of sighting, in the Midwest, as a migration path. I was thankful they came to visit our little lake so I could enjoy more of God’s unique creations.
Visit the Audubon Guide for Bufflehead Ducks HERE
Related post: A Pair of Mergansers Pay a Visit