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

 

About Sarah

nature, outdoor, and health enthusiast, book reader, and story teller
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8 Responses to The Bufflehead Ducks

  1. zirah1 says:

    Never heard of a Bufflehead, but good to know that peace finally prevailed…..at least for awhile. Seems like where you are in on the migration route of a number of different birds, and having the park next door where they seem to “camp out” in transit is a real plus.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Zirah 🙂
      Thanks for visiting! It was fun to watch them stake their claims to the various parts of the pond. 🙂 It all happened so fast. I was thinking about how the people around the pond were going about their usual morning tasks and here in a little almost hidden spot Grand Drama was taking place. 🙂 I was wondering when putting the photos together what the probability was for the ducks to fly over, spot the pond, and then decide to spend the night there. The year before, I saw a flock of over a dozen red-headed ducks one morning in March which is why I was visiting the pond most of the days last March. I didn’t see the red-headed ducks last year, but I did get treated to the bufflehead ducks. 🙂 I haven’t been making the daily trips this March since until the last couple of days it has been too cold. This morning, the pond was empty. I make a point when I am out and about this time of year to pay attention since you never know who might flying over head. 🙂

  2. Shady_Grady says:

    What a tremendously funny name!! It sounds like a great insult.
    I guess the dogs must be a constant irritation to the ducks.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Shady 🙂
      Thanks for visiting! If the ducks had a say in their names, I imagine they would be more dignified and inventive. 🙂 I saw a half dozen mallard ducks in the pond this morning. I couldn’t tell if they were all together. The female mallard started loudly quacking when another pair flew over as if to say…. “Keep flying… This is our pond! Keep flying…Keep flying…”

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