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Harlequin Duck


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A bird of fast-moving water, the Harlequin Duck breeds on fast-flowing streams and winters along rocky coastlines in the crashing surf.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
13–21.3 in
33–54 cm
22–26 in
56–66 cm
17.6–25.6 oz
500–726 g
Other Names
  • Arlequin plongeur, Canard arlequin, Canne de roche (French)

Cool Facts

  • More than half of eastern North American population of Harlequin Ducks winters in coastal Maine, particularly outer reaches of Penobscot and Jericho bays.
  • When engaged in behavioral interactions, the Harlequin Duck gives distinctly unducklike squeaks, the source of one of its local names: sea mouse.
  • 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 in 2014 and identified by his band. He had been banded in Alberta in 1995.



Mountain streams and rivers, usually in forested regions; in winter, primarily turbulent coastal waters, especially in rocky regions.



Insects, fish, and marine invertebrates.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–9 eggs
Egg Description
Pale creamy to pale buff.
Condition at Hatching
Covered in down and able to leave the nest soon after hatching.
Nest Placement



Surface Dive

Dives for prey on or near bottom.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

There is little information on Harlequin Duck population numbers and trends, but wintering populations in eastern North America are currently much smaller than historical (late 1800s) numbers. However, populations grew in the last part of 20th century. The species rates an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Harlequin Duck is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Watch List. The species is listed as endangered in Canada, threatened in Maine, and a species of special concern in western states.


Range Map Help

Harlequin Duck Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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