The bufflehead may be seen, alone or in a pair or a small flock of up to six birds, in the spring migration period, March and April. It may be found on the shores of Lake Ontario in the winter, at e.g., the Niagara Falls area, the lakefronts of Toronto and Cobourg, and at Presqu'ile park, November to April. In Trent Hills it may be seen on the Crowe and Trent rivers, as at Crowe Bridge conservation area, and along the Trent canal both north of and within the town of Campbellford. This attractive waterbird seems to be a spring migrant here: so far I have noticed it only in a narrow window of just four weeks, between 26 March and 23 April.
The bigger picture explains our limited sightings of the handsome bufflehead: it breeds largely from Algoma northwest to Kenora and north to the shore of the Arctic Ocean (Cadman et al., 1987, pp.96-97) Subsequent observations (Cadman et al., 2007, pp.108-109) indicate small breeding populations in Haliburton district, and north of Sudbury, but this small, well-travelled sea duck remains a pleasant sight here on spring migration, and (more often and in much greater numbers) at Presqu'ile.
The bufflehead is seen at Presqu'ile provincial park, roughly 40 km to the south, mainly in migration and in the winter. The spring migration lasts from late January to mid-May, with a peak in early April (LaForest, 1993, p.92).
In Peterborough county, to the northwest, this bird
is mostly seen in migration, 2 February to 4 May
and 1 October to 2 December
(Sadler, 1983, p.54).
Cadman,MD, Eagles,PFJ and Helleiner,FM (1987) Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario. Federation of Ontario Naturalists and Long Point Bird Observatory, published by University of Waterloo Press, 617pp.
Cadman,MD, Sutherland,DA, Beck,GG, Lepage,D and Couturier,AR (editors) (2007) Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005. Bird Studies Canada, Environment Canada, Ontario Field Ornithologists, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and Ontario Nature, 706pp.
LaForest,SM (1993) Birds of Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Friends of Presqu'ile Park, Brighton, Ontario / Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 436pp.
Sadler,D (1983) Our Heritage of Birds: Peterborough County in the Kawarthas. Peterborough Field Naturalists / Orchid Press, Peterborough, ON, 192pp.