We know winter is on its way when we start seeing our local waterways filled with Bufflehead. By December they are the second most common duck in this area. It's always a joy watching those little ducks pop up like corks as they seem to constantly feed.
Buffleheads are a small duck, almost half the size of Mallards. Their large, puffy heads gave them the name Buffalo-headed Duck, which has officially become Bufflehead.
The male is black with a white belly and white sides. A noticeable feature is the large white wedge behind his eye. The only duck similar to them are Hooded Mergansers who have a spike-like bill and brown sides. The female Bufflehead is much duller looking, overall brown with a white oval cheek patch.
Enjoy them now for they will be leaving us again when the weather starts turning warmer and spring arrives. Then they'll leave to breed in the woods of Canada and Alaska until fall arrives and the migration cycle continues.
Once the ducks arrive here in the fall they can be seen on most of our local lakes and bays singly or in small flocks. A great spot to see them is the Hoquiam Sewage Lagoons off Dobson Rd near the Hoquiam Airport.