Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Bufflehead Courtship

On 7 January 2021, I watched Buffleheads court in Budd Bay in the Port of Olympia. Two males courted a female, who was clearly attracted to one of the males. The male did nothing to dissuade her, raising his wings at her approach—a typical courtship display.
At her approach, called a Following Display and indicative that the birds are paired, this male raised his head feathers, lowered his head, and directed his white head patch towards the female. The raising of the head feathers greatly increases the size of the white head patch. A few times the first male, swimming with speed, chased off the other male. 
The  male ran across the water, making splashes behind me as he flew low enough to beat the water with his feet—another courtship behavior used to impress potential mates Gauthier (2020).

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