Bryan Brillhart Photography Presents “Dig Imperial Beach” Bird of the Week, is the” Bufflehead”
Dec 03, 2015 05:02PM
By Paul Spear
Bryan Brillhart of Bryan Brillhart Photography presents us with the “Bird of the Week”. This week’s bird is s the Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola),“
The column will provide a picture of a bird(s) locally photographed and we will have background on the bird.
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“Dig Imperial Beach” Bird of the Week, the “Bufflehead ”
This week’s “Bird of the Week” is the Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola), a small American sea
duck. A diminutive diver, it is one of our smallest ducks, often very energetic in its feeding. It nests in cavities; but unlike other hole-nesting ducks, the Bufflehead is small enough to use unmodified old nest holes of Northern Flickers, giving it a ready source of good nest sites. Less sociable than most ducks, it is seen in pairs or small groups, almost never in large flocks. Buffleheads wing easily from the water, flying with rapid wingbeats. The name "Bufflehead" is derived from "buffalo-head," for the male's odd puffy head shape.
Buffleheads forage mostly underwater. All the birds in a small flock may dive at same time. It rarely feeds with only head submerged.Its diet varies with seasons and habitat. In summer and on fresh water it feeds mainly on aquatic insects; on the ocean it feeds mainly on crustaceans, also eating many mollusks (especially snails) in winter, and small amounts of plant material in fall.
Males begin courtship displays by early winter, but most pairs form in spring. Displays of male include head-bobbing, wing-lifting, and short display flights, most with crest feathers fully raised. Nest site, chosen by the female, is in a tree cavity (especially old flicker holes), usually 2-10' above ground, sometimes up to 50'. They
sometimes use nest boxes. The same site may be used for several years. A lining of down is the only nest material.
During nesting,8-10, sometimes 6-12 cream to pale buff eggs are laid. Incubation is by the female, 29-31 days, sometimes 28-33. Young leave the nest 1-2 days after hatching, and are led to the water by the female. Young are tended by the female but feed themselves. 2 broods may join, or young are separated from one brood and may join another. Age at first flight is 50-55 days.
Look for this distinctive bird and other interesting species in our own Tijuana Estuary.