Red-winged blackbirds arriving, snow geese on their way, a few migrating ducks finding ice-free water…..it’s beginning to look and sound like spring. I must weigh in on the annual ritual of reporting first arrivals: my story revolves around a couple of tiny little ducks that happened to visit (Feb. 29) while on their way to Canada.
The Bufflehead is one of our smallest ducks, one of many species in the group referred to as “diving ducks”.
When I spotted this pair of females they were actively feeding, and therefore approachable. Their dive is explosive, quick, without ceremony. They search the bottom for aquatic invertebrates, disappearing for 8 to 10 seconds, then pop back up to the surface. Despite watching this routine for half an hour, both the dive and the return always caught me a little off guard!
The buffleheads fed almost nonstop, rhythmically bobbing, plopping and popping in the small patch of open water. Occasionally they paused – briefly – to groom and rest.
Later this spring these adorable little ducks will be in Canada, searching for dead or dying trees with cavities excavated by woodpeckers – habitat suitable for nesting and raising a brood. I wish them well!
Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.