Harlequin Duck

The Harlequin Duck is a unique and colorful bird that inhabits the rocky coasts and fast-moving streams of North America. With its striking plumage, small size, and distinctive calls, it’s no wonder that this species has caught the attention of birders and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

Basic Description

The Harlequin Duck is a medium-sized waterfowl with an average length of about 16 inches. Males have bold coloring with blue-gray heads, white crescents around their eyes, chestnut flanks, and black backs. Females are more muted in appearance with dark brown feathers marked by light speckling on their faces and chests.

Where To Find This Bird

Harlequin Ducks can be found along the Pacific coast from Alaska to California as well as parts of eastern Canada. During breeding season (April through July), they inhabit fast-flowing mountain streams where they feed on aquatic insects before migrating to coastal areas for winter.


Harlequin Ducks prefer habitats near rapidly moving water such as rapids or cascades surrounded by rocks for cover. They often nest behind boulders or under vegetation along riverbanks to protect themselves from predators such as hawks or eagles.


As previously mentioned, Harlequin ducks feed primarily on aquatic insects during breeding season but also consume crustaceans like amphipods year-round while nesting in marine environments. These birds are excellent divers who can submerge themselves up to 60 feet deep in search of food.

Cool Facts

– The scientific name for the Harlequin duck is Histrionicus histrionicus which means “actor” due to their dramatic markings
– Male Harlequins put on elaborate courtship displays including head bobbing and vocalizations
– In some Native American cultures, these ducks were considered sacred animals
– Though not endangered overall, certain populations within specific regions may be threatened due to habitat loss or other factors such as oil spills
– Harlequin Ducks can reach speeds up to 50 mph during flight, making them one of the fastest waterfowl species.

In conclusion, the Harlequin Duck is a fascinating bird with unique physical characteristics and behaviors. These ducks inhabit challenging environments where they must adapt to survive against predators and changing conditions. By observing their behavior and understanding their habitats, we can learn more about these amazing creatures while appreciating their beauty in nature.