“In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” ― Alfred Lord Tennyson. I guess that’s true but there is no question about a young duck’s interest. I took these photos of two male Bufflehead with a lone female performing their courtship rituals just offshore from the beach on the southern end of Plum Island. It was quite a show, hence the extra large post.
A male does a fly-over when he courts a female in the presence of other males. He makes a short flight over the female with his head held forward and low. He lands in an upright position with his crest erected as he “skis” on water. He wants to show off his conspicuous black and white upper plumage and bright pink feet. Then there is head thrusting, wing lifting and head bobbing. This series of photos shows the whole procedure.
There was a lot of posturing, chasing and splashing in addition to this ritual. The female mostly observes the action but sometimes she is pursued rather vigorously. It is quite a display!
Soon they all head north. Any results of the courtships will visit us next winter.