The Buffleheads' main range is to be found amongst the boreal forests and aspen parklands of Canada and Alaska, with the highest density in British Columbia and Alberta. Their nonbreeding range extends through the contential United States into Northern Mexico. It is a small diving ducks which prefers small lakes or permanent freshwater ponds with no outlet. Here it feeds on both freshwater and saltwater aquatic invertebrates, seeds and bulrushes.
It is a tree nester and unlike many ducks when it chooses its partner it will bond for life. In the wild their population is healthy despite being shot by hunters.