Bufflehead Ducks at Rouge National Park

Bufflehead Ducks, male & female, Rouge National Park, Toronto

Bufflehead, Rouge National Park, Toronto

Late one fall, Bob and I hiked a new trail at  Rouge National Urban Park,  here in Toronto, Ontario.  We were amazed at how remote it felt on the edge of a big city, and the Bufflehead ducks that are from the Arctic seemed right at home.

Pond 1, Rouge National Park, Toronto

There are numerous ponds that have formed in the wetlands, where we have seen beavers, and a wide variety of waterfowl.

Bob on Cedar Trail, Rouge National Park, Toronto

Bob atop a century’s old tree stump, a remnant from logging days in the past.

Pond 2, Rouge National Park, Toronto

Before we reached the largest pond, the cacophony of bird calls announced the presence of hundreds of Canada Geese and a variety of ducks.

Bufflehead Ducks mingle with Canada Geese, Rouge National Park, Toronto

In amongst the Canada Geese were several pairs of Bufflehead Ducks, although at first glance, they were difficult to pick out given that their plumage and markings greatly resembled those of the geese, not to mention some Common Goldeneye Ducks that we also spotted.

Bufflehead Ducks, male & female, Rouge National Park, Toronto

Bufflehead, Rouge National Park, Toronto

We had never seen this type of duck before as we saw at Rouge National Urban Park, but upon returning home, we learned that Bufflehead ducks are big-headed diving ducks that usually spend summers in Alaska and northern parts of the western provinces of Canada.  Seeing as they winter primarily along either the eastern or western seaboards of Canada and the United States.

Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean


    • thanks. Bob and I were so pleased to see such a variety of birds on the pond that day. It is great that there are such preserved natural spaces in our cities.

  • Buffleheads nest in the tree cavities with northern flickers. The two birds nesting together benefits them both. That is the reason for the buffleheads small size, so it can fit into the nesting cavity of the northern flicker. Unlike other birds, the buffleheads are not a nest parasites, like the redhead duck, which will drop their eggs in the nest of canvasbacks. Buffleheads are classified as a sea duck, and will spend the winter in protected coastal waters. But they will also go to large inland waters, that are ice-free during the winter. I saw them at Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge in southern Oregon, because it remains ice-free all winter long.

    • I didn’t realize that Buffleheads nest in tree cavities. I had only ever heard of Wood Ducks doing that. Interesting fact…thanks.

      • Buffleheads nest in tree cavities, and so do wood ducks and all species of mergansers. How they keep from competing, is that buffleheads will nest with northern flickers, wood ducks feed on fallen nuts, and nest more inland, so they can get down on the ground and feed on fallen chestnuts and acorns. Mergansers nest more closer to water, where they can dive for the fish they feed on.

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