Harlequin Ducks

Harlequin Duck, NPS photoHarlequin Duck, Peter Massas photoHarlequin Ducks, NPS photo

With their distinctive slate blue, chestnut and white markings, male harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) are one of the most recognizable birds in the Crown of the Continent. A sea duck, this species arrives in the spring and is often seen diving underwater to eat insects, crustaceans and molluscs in swift moving rivers and streams. Their densely packed feathers insulate them from the cold and make them exceptionally buoyant.

Associated with cold rivers and streams, harlequin ducks may be susceptible to changes brought about by climate change. Currently, research on the species is directed at monitoring their distribution, population trends, and factors affecting their reproductive success and survival.