Diving Duck

Name: Bufflehead Diving Duck
Scientific name: Bucephala albeola
Range: North America
Habitat: Woodlands of North America
Status: Not threatened
Diet in the wild: aquatic insects, clams, shrimps, seeds of pond weeds and bulrushes
Diet in the zoo: aquatic insects, clams, shrimps, seeds of pond weeds and bulrushes
Location in the zoo: Coastal Section of The Texas Wild Exhibit

Physical description: 


  • 13-15 1/2" (33-39 cm)
  • Males are usually larger than females.
  • Bufflehead male is black above and white below with a gray bill.  
  • Females are brown above and gray below.  
  • Wingspread of 13-16"
  • White wing patches visible in flight

General information:

Their heads are puffy (their name means cow-head) yet they are one of the smallest ducks in North America.  Their bill is tiny and their form is chunky and they are not known to breed until 2 years old. They nest in holes located in trees and do not use any materials.  Bufflehead demonstrate a propensity to return to the same nesting holes every year.

Special anatomical, physiological
or behavioral adaptations:

Bufflehead are one of the best known divers and can take off from the water without running along the surface, unlike other diving ducks.  They usually are in motion flying about and diving frequently.  The male Bufflehead utters a squeaky whistle while the female has a harsh quack.

Comments about the Bufflehead of the Fort Worth Zoo:

The Bufflehead diving ducks at the Fort Worth Zoo are very busy divers. They are constantly swimming and diving. They like to dive in groups and then dive under and remain their for quite a while. (It seemed like a long time). The ducks I guess like to have fun and hang with their buddies. The ducks make whirling sound with their wings and sounds similar to that of an insect.

Diving ducks under water and emerging to the surface. 

Personal Observations:

While at the zoo I noticed that these ducks have lots of grooming on their mind. They preen their feathers. One duck I noticed serves as a spotter to the other diving ducks and keeps watch over the usual 3-4 that dive.



Page author:{short description of image}Brenda Cloud

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