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bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) [female] [male]

Features and Behaviors

The bufflehead is about 13 and one-half to 14 inches long (bill tip to tail tip in preserved specimen). The male has black, back and wing feathers and white feathers on the remainder of the body and onto the part of the wings closest to the body. A large white patch of feathers is present from below the eye to the top of the head. The remainder of the head feathers are green, purple and brown. The female has dark, gray-brown feathers on her wings and body with a white-feathered cheek patch, a small, white wing patch and white belly feathers. The hind toe has a flap. The legs are located close to the tail.

The bufflehead can be seen at lakes, ponds, rivers and sewage lagoons. It is a diving duck. It must run across the water's surface to take flight. This species eats small invertebrates and fishes. It is a common migrant and uncommon winter resident in Illinois. It nests in Alaska, Canada and the northern United States.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae

Illinois Status: common, native