Males often give a grating or chattering call during their head-bobbing courtship displays, and they may squeal or growl in late winter or spring. Females give a guttural cuk-cuk-cuk call when circling around potential nest sites. Females also call to their ducklings with a low, throaty note that makes them hurry after her. Bufflehead are quieter than other ducks in their genus.
When males fly toward females in courtship, they often land with a slapping sound.