Increased Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) Breeding Activity in Minnesota


  • Susan N. Ellis-Felege University of North Dakota
  • Cassandra G. Skaggs Previous: University of North Dakota Current: Louisiana State University
  • Gregory A. Knutsen U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service



Breeding range, Bucephala albeola, Bufflehead, cavity nesting, expansion, Great Plains, upper midwest


Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) predominantly nest in the boreal forests and aspen parklands of Canada and Alaska. Historically, Buffleheads were common migrants but not summer residents in Minnesota. However, recent observations in Minnesota and surrounding states suggest increased breeding activity in the region. In 1978, the first Bufflehead brood in Minnesota was recorded at East Park Wildlife Management Area. Annually, Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) has conducted pair and brood surveys, with species-specific records available from 1990 to 2014. We report an increase in numbers of Bufflehead breeding pairs and broods at Agassiz NWR and new pair observations in surrounding areas.

Author Biographies

Susan N. Ellis-Felege, University of North Dakota

Department of Biology, Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology

Cassandra G. Skaggs, Previous: University of North Dakota Current: Louisiana State University

School of Renewable Natural Resources, Graduate Student

Gregory A. Knutsen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Refuge Manager, Glacial Ridge and Rydell NWRs