This is a chunky sea-duck but there are always a scattering of them inland in the winter on larger water bodies. As always it is the drakes that are easy to identify. The dark head (actually bottle green and glossy) has a circular white spot between the bill and the gold eye. The breast, underparts and wing are white with black and white scapulars between this and the dark back, rump and tail. The females are chestnut headed and with pale grey-brown underparts contrasting with darker upper parts.
These are birds that breed in forests because they need tree holes for nesting - or nest boxes - with water close by. They breed throughout Northern Europe, Asia and North America. In winter they come as far South as the Mediterranean, Souther China, California and Florida.
Bucephala was Alexander the Great's horse. In Britain regular breeding started in a special nest box scheme in Scotland and now well over 100 occupied nests are recorded each year.
A widespread mostly sea-duck during the winter.
Length 460 mm Closed wing 210 mm Weight 900 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead