Synchronized Buffleheads

Bufflehead M and F
Bufflehead M and F

Off on the north side of the park yesterday I saw a small flock of little black and white birds that I thought might be Scaup.  But when I got the camera turned on and pointed in their direction, the water was empty.  Not a bird in sight.  Half a minute later, a few yards further out, they all suddenly reappeared.  And a few seconds later, no birds at all.  After a while they got tired and stayed on top for a minute or two and I got my pictures.  These are Bufflehead, and synchronized diving is something they’re known for.  They’re ducks, much smaller than mallards, and they do almost all their feeding while completely submerged.  My pic shows a male, with the big white patch on the back of his head, and a female, with a smaller white streak on the cheek.  According to audubon.org, they are mostly carnivorous, preferring insects, crustaceans, and snails, but will eat plant material in limited amounts.  They nest in trees, sometimes as high as fifty feet off the ground.  Coming round the bend toward the North Basin (east side of the park) I saw maybe another thirty of them, almost all females.  

A few days later I saw them — or birds of their ilk — again, and closer to shore, in the North Basin, in a better light.  When the sun hits at the proper angle, the male reveals a rainbow of colors on his head.  I also got a snapshot of the pair doing their synchronized dive number.  See photos below.

 

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