This post is a bit longer than I normally do but I think it will be worth it.
Buffleheads perform mating displays just before they head north to their summer breeding grounds. There’s a lot of ritual action that is fun to watch and I tried to capture some of the key elements. One thing they do is a head bob, dropping the head low to the water and then stretching their neck upwards while puffing the feathers. Both sexes do it, as you can see in the bottom photo. The female is the duck with the small white patch on her cheek.
Another display is sort of like a body builder flexing. “Look at me!” Some splashing adds to the effect.
She can flex too.
Bufflehead will plow through the water, sometimes alone and sometimes as a chase.
To me, the most spectacular display involves short low flights over the other ducks. Running along the surface and keeping the head bent low is part of the display.
The display flight ends in an upright posture as the male skis across the surface.
There’s quite a show when there is a large group.