The Bufflehead Ducks

A migrating female bufflehead duck in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 10, 2016.

A duck swam out of the fog one morning in March last year. He was followed by his mate. They swam, dived, and groomed peacefully together.

This was only the second time I had seen a bufflehead duck. The bufflehead ducks are about 5/8th the size of the mallard ducks. They dive for food instead of dabbling in the shallow water like the mallard ducks. This area is on their migration route.

What does the pond in the park next door look like to a migrating duck? It is a bit of water in the midst of tall grass. The ducks might not know about the dogs who like to walk in the park with their owners. The mallard ducks are frequent visitors to the pond. They manage the dogs by flying away or retreating to the middle of the pond.

I saw the bufflehead ducks in the pond from March 10th to March 16th last year. A couple of times, there were more than two ducks. On those days, territorial scuffles took place between the groups of ducks. The males bobbed up and down in the water signaling their intent. Then, they swam under the water to push the intruding duck from underneath. The ducks have to patter their feet on the water before taking flight. After much splashing and commotion, the groups found their respective areas of the pond. Peaceful diving and grooming prevailed at least for a while.

March 10, 2016

A migrating female bufflehead duck in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 10, 2016.

A migrating female bufflehead duck diving in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 10, 2016.

A migrating female bufflehead duck diving in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 10, 2016.

A migrating female bufflehead duck diving in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 10, 2016.

A migrating male bufflehead duck in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 10, 2016.

A migrating male bufflehead duck diving in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 10, 2016.

A migrating male bufflehead duck diving in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 10, 2016.

March 11, 2016

Migrating bufflehead ducks swimming in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 11, 2016. After three more bufflehead ducks joined the orginal pair, territorial scuffles started.

A pair of migrating bufflehead ducks in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 11, 2016.

A pair of migrating bufflehead ducks in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 11, 2016.

A pair of migrating bufflehead ducks grooming in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 11, 2016. A pair of mallard ducks swam by the bufflehead ducks.

A migrating male bufflehead duck in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 11, 2016.

March 12, 2016

Migrating bufflehead ducks flying over the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 12, 2016.

Migrating bufflehead ducks landing in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 12, 2016.

Migrating bufflehead ducks flying over the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 12, 2016.

A migrating male bufflehead duck flying over the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 12, 2016.

March 14, 2016

A pair of migrating bufflehead ducks grooming and diving in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 14, 2016

A pair of migrating bufflehead ducks in the pond in the park next door, Iowa, March 14, 2016.

Take care and thanks for reading.

Sarah

 

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