The winter migration continues with the arrival of a flock of about a dozen Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) on the North Basin. These, too, are coming from the far north. But unlike Scaup and Surf Scoters, who breed and nest on lakes and wetlands, these tiny ducks make their nests in old woodpecker holes in northern forests.
Here’s the scoop on them from the Cornell bird lab:
The Bufflehead nests almost exclusively in holes excavated by Northern Flickers and, on occasion, by Pileated Woodpeckers.
Unlike most ducks, the Bufflehead is mostly monogamous, often remaining with the same mate for several years.
Bufflehead normally live only in North America, but in winter they occasionally show up elsewhere, including Kamchatka, Japan, Greenland, Iceland, the British Isles, Belgium, France, Finland, and Czechoslovakia. In some of these cases, the birds may have escaped from captivity.
The oldest Bufflehead on record was at least 18 years and 8 months old. It was caught and re-released by a bird bander in New York in 1975.
Bufflehead fossils from the late Pleistocene (about 500,000 years ago) have been found in Alaska, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, and Washington. One California fossil that resembles a modern Bufflehead dates to the late Pliocene, two million years ago.https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bufflehead/overview
In past years we have seen considerably larger numbers. This flock is not likely to be the last of the species to visit here.