Bufflehead are diminutive black-and-white diving ducks with relatively large heads that shimmer as colorfully as an oil slick.

Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) is coined from “buffalo-head,” comparing the small diving duck’s remarkably over-sized head to that of a bison.  Bucephalas literally translates to “ox head,” implying that all 3 golden-eyed ducks within the genus have extraordinarily large heads.  In the right light, the bufflehead drake’s black head shimmers like an oil slick, showing magnificent green to violet iridescent arrays.

Bufflehead drakes have a prominent white area surrounding the back of its head. Bills of both sexes are short and blunt, males and females both displaying bluish gray coloration. The hen bufflehead’s bill matches their legs and feet. Bufflehead drakes have large bubblegum-pink legs and feet, which are easily seen in flight along with their unusually long tail for divers. The drake’s wings have a unique white patch originating in the speculum and extending diagonally through the upperwing coverts. Females have plain brown heads with white streaks daintily painted on each cheek, and overall gray brown plumage.