Monday, April 11, 2011


I grin whenever I see a hen Bufflehead, as I did in late March, when I photographed this one at Alexander Park in Faribault, MN.  I came upon one in a pond when I was a senior in high school.  If you are desperate to see a Hooded Merganser, and I was, the two ducks look vaguely similar.  After much deliberation, I correctly decided it was a Bufflehead. The bill is duck-like--not pointed and saw-shaped like that of a merganser.  The merganser came later, and that is another story, which involves a foggy morning, overloaded rowboat, duck decoys, and irate hunters.
Drake Buffleheads are hard to misidentify.  This string of drakes and hens were at Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern South Dakota.  Buffleheads are sometimes called Butterballs by hunters, who account for significant mortality of the species. This duck breeds across most of boreal Canada. Buffleheads are almost always monogamous.  Females often use the same nesting site for more than one season.  They nest in old flicker holes and in nest boxes (Gauthier 1993).

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