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A discussion of the distributional ecology of the Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola; Anatidae; Aves) based upon breeding biology studies in British Columbia Erskine, Anthony John

Abstract

This study discusses the breeding biology of the Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola; Anatidae, Aves), and examines factors operating upon the species during the breeding season to evaluate their effectiveness in setting limits to its breeding distribution. A definition of the breeding habitat utilized by the species is offered, with special attention being paid to the form and spatial relationships of the nest-hole. Precise details on nesting are presented and compared with those of related species. Factors which may affect the survival of young under varying conditions are examined critically for correlations with observed mortality. On the basis of these data it is suggested that climate is of major importance in limiting the breeding distribution of Bufflehead. Climate limits the distribution of trees, and thus of nest-sites, while luxuriant growth of shrubs in regions of high rainfall may limit the fraction of young reaching the water. Adverse weather may cause mortality both by causing chilling and by preventing small young from feeding. It is felt that further studies on waterfowl which involve relationships between nest-sites and territories might profitably use this species as a vehicle.

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