Description ADULT MALE Has rather large, rounded head that looks black and white in poor light; good light reveals an iridescent purple sheen to black elements. Body plumage is otherwise white, except for black back. Eclipse and first-winter males recall adult female. ADULT FEMALE Dark brown back and head, except for striking white oval patch on cheek. White on wing can be glimpsed in swimming birds. Neck and underparts grayish white. JUVENILE Similar to adult female.
Dimensions Length: 13-15" (33-38 cm)
Habitat Fairly common. Found on wooded lakes in breeding season, nesting in tree holes. In winter, on sheltered coastal bays and inland lakes.
Range Southwest, Southeast, Eastern Canada, New England, California, Texas, Northwest, Plains, Great Lakes, Alaska, Western Canada, Florida, Rocky Mountains, Mid-Atlantic
Voice Mostly silent.
Discussion Small, distinctive diving duck with a dainty bill. Feeds on aquatic invertebrates. Male is unmistakable and female is easy to identify when plumage and size are considered fully. In flight, all birds show white inner flight feathers and take off almost vertically from water when alarmed.