- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
The aptly named Harlequin Duck is one of the most spectacular species of waterfowl in North America, not only for the male’s striking plumage but for the dramatic landscapes that the duck calls home. The blue, chestnut, and white males, along with the grayish females, breed mainly along whitewater rivers and winter on rocky windswept coasts. Their lifestyle is rough on their bodies, and many Harlequin Ducks endure broken bones from a lifetime of being tossed around in the rough water.More ID Info
Find This Bird
It’s easiest to find Harlequin Ducks in winter, when they congregate on rocky shores of the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast’s Atlantic coast. (The coast of Maine is estimated to hold more than half of the eastern population in winter, particularly on Penobscot and Jericho bays.) They seem to seek out the roughest conditions and most exposed settings: rocky shores with big waves, where they bob on the water often in strings or small flocks. Look for them fairly close to shore or resting on rocks in the sun.
- Pato arlequín (Spanish)
- Arlequin plongeur (French)
- Cool Facts
- When interacting, Harlequin Ducks make distinctly unducklike squeaks, from whence comes one of its colloquial names, sea mouse.
- This species’ common name (harlequin) and scientific name (histrionicus) of the Harlequin Duck refer to the almost theatrical nature of the male’s colorful plumage.
- Harlequin Ducks suffer more broken bones than any other species, and X-rays and museum specimens have determined that most adults live with multiple healed fractures.
- The oldest recorded Harlequin Duck was a male, and at least 20 years, 9 months old when he was seen in the wild in British Columbia and identified by his band in 2014, He had been banded in Alberta in 1995.