AskDefine | Define bufflehead

Dictionary Definition

bufflehead n : small North American diving duck; males have bushy head plumage [syn: butterball, dipper, Bucephela albeola]

Extensive Definition

The Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) is a small American sea duck of the genus Bucephala, the goldeneyes. This species was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 as Anas albeola.
They range from 32-40 cm long (12.5-16 inches) and 270-550 grams (9.5 oz.-1.2 lbs), with the drakes larger than the females. Averaging 35.5 cm (14 inches) and 370 grams (13 oz), they rival the Green-winged Teal as the smallest American duck.
Adult males have a dark head with a large white cap behind the eye and a mainly white body with a black back. Adult females have a brown head with a smaller white patch behind the eye and a mainly brown body.A clutch may range from 5 to 10 eggs. Eggs are typically about 36.3 mm (1.4 inches) in breadth and 50.6 mm (2 inches) in length, weighing about 37.4 grams (1.3 oz) on average. The incubation period ranges from 28 to 33 days, during which the female is quite attentive. Locally, the clutch survival rate may range from 45% to 5% based on factors like cold weather, rain, competitors (i.e. grebes or other ducks) or predators (like Northern Pike). The female abandons the nest after 5 to 6 weeks, and the young fledge at 45 to 55 days of age.
These diving birds forage underwater. In freshwater habitats they eat mostly insects, and on saltwater they feed predominantly on crustaceans and molluscs. Aquatic plants and fish eggs can often become locally important food items as well.
Buffleheads do not tend to collect in large flocks; groups are usually limited to small numbers (less than 10). Predators of adults include Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Snowy Owl (Nyctea scandiaca), Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) and Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii). Females may be killed on the nest by mammals, such as weasels (Mustela spp.) or mink (Mustela vison), and by Goldeneyes over nest competition.
About 70,000+ Buffleheads are killed yearly by duck hunters , but this only comprises about 1% to 2% of waterfowl-hunting in North America and is strongly regulated. Habitat degredation is now the major threat to this bird, since they almost always return to their hatch site to breed. Although Buffleheads do use man-made nest boxes, they still need the forest habitat in order to thrive.


External links

bufflehead in Czech: Hohol bělavý
bufflehead in German: Büffelkopfente
bufflehead in French: Garrot albéole
bufflehead in Italian: Bucephala albeola
bufflehead in Japanese: ヒメハジロ
bufflehead in Polish: Gągołek
bufflehead in Finnish: Pikkutelkkä
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