Thursday, 26 March 2015

Day 143 - Brilliant Buffleheads

Hi all today's Day 143 and, if you follow my blog, you will know that I have been at Washington Wetland Centre. It was great to get a look at a lot of birds I haven't seen before, and learn how this charity is helping a lot of species. When I was there, I must have seen at least 21 species that I had never seen before. This was really fun to do and it also given me a lot of blogging material. One of the things that I saw there had a fabulous name. The Bufflehead :-) I know that they are not very common in Britain, as I will mention below, but I felt I had to cover them because of their great name :-p
Male Bufflehead ( Bucephala albeola )

So, here are the facts:

  • Its name comes from the two words 'buffalo' and 'head'. The reason for this is because this bird has an unusually large head for its size. You can see this in the pictures.
  • Males appear to be black and white but if you get close enough you will see they're actually purple and green!
  • Females are duller in colour and they have completely different patterns on their body to their male associates.
  • There are fewer than 20 RECORDS IN THE UK. This isn't too bad, though, seeing as they're actually an American bird.
Female bufflehead - hard to photo
- most of them were just showing ripples!
  • The last natural sighting that I have found was in Trimley Marshes in Suffolk in 2014. Several others have been sighted in 2007 in the Highlands and the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
  • They are small birds being only 36cm in length and only having a wingspan of 58cm. Males weigh 400g and Females weigh 340g.
  • They feed on aquatic invertebrates such as insect larvae as well as some types of seed, along with crustaceans and molluscs.
  • Some collective nouns for the Bufflehead are a brace, a flush, a paddling, a raft and a team. That's for you Roy! You can remember this from the following rhyme that I have made up:
I saw a team of buffleheads paddling a raft in the bracing cold as they were flushed down a river.
Looking out
  • Buffleheads dive underwater and when courting females the Males swim in front of them, bobbing their heads up and down very quickly. They are also monogamous and usually colonise in small groups.
  • When one is fishing/diving, another will keep watch for predators. That's teamwork in the wildlife world!
  • You can identify them when they're flying because of their small size, fast wing-beats and they rock from side to side when they fly.
  • The oldest ever recorded Bufflehead was 18 years and 8 months old!
It's a cracking little compact duck and it's a shame they are so rare. If you want to find out more, click on one of the links.

Finally, this is probably my favourite fact that I found because I had to laugh;

Their beautiful song goes like this:  'Quack'

(I'm not going to mention the site I saw that on to protect the innocent)


Hope you enjoyed,



  1. They are such gorgeous ducks! - Tasha

    1. Really are nice ducks and such a brilliant name - saw some other really colourful birds too :-)

  2. a paddling of buffleheads, or a raft? not sure which I prefer? I wonder if it depends on how many you spot? A brace usually means a pair. I love that oily iridescence of some birds feathers - from a distance they look simply black but close up you can see greens, purples, blues and some colours I'm not sure there are names for. Thanks Zach for another great days blog

    1. Thanks Roy, I like that effect on their feathers too :-)