Bird Database


(Bucephala albeola)

State of the Birds
At a Glance



Short distance





Conservation Actions

Manage waterfowl harvest


(Bucephala albeola)

Like many diving ducks, the Bufflehead does not nest in New Hampshire. The core of its breeding range is in western Canada and Alaska, with a few also nesting in the northern Rockies of the United States. Old nesting records as close as Maine occurred before extensive forest clearing in the Northeast, and now it breeds no closer than western Quebec. Like its relatives the goldeneyes, the Bufflehead is a cavity nester, and is thus found only in wooded areas during the breeding season. These are small ducks, and most nesting occurs in cavities excavated by Northern Flickers, although nest boxes are also readily used. On their freshwater breeding grounds Buffleheads feed almost entirely on insects including the larvae of dragonflies and midges.

In New Hampshire, the Bufflehead is a common migrant on lakes, ponds, and large rivers across the state, and winters primarily in sheltered coastal waters including Great Bay. Most of the eastern winter population is concentrated in the mid-Atlantic region, with many also in the Great Lakes. Winter prey in saltwater consists of mollusks, crustaceans, and sometimes small fish.

Buffleheads, like other ducks that breed in forested portions of Canada, show stable or increasing populations. Numbers on winter surveys in the Northeast appear stable, with fluctuations that likely reflect variation in open water which affect how birds are concentrated during the survey period.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count