Harlequin Duck - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Harlequin Duck - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Harlequin Duck - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Harlequin Duck - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image  
Click on an image (if available) to see a larger version

Mountain Nature Network has become THE place for learning about the birds of the Canadian Rockies.

Harlequin Duck
Histrionicus histrionicus

Diving Ducks
Waterfowl Family (Anatidae)

Size: Length: 35-50 cm

Description: The beautiful Harlequin Duck is a favourite Rocky Mountain diving duck. The drakes are brightly coloured, leading to their comical name. Their head, neck, breast and back are all blue-gray with numerous distinct white markings. On the head, there is a large white cheek patch, as well as a white ear spot and another crescent shaped white spot towards the back of the head. The base of the neck shows a white line with a black lower border. There is also a white line (bordered by black) that outlines the breast-belly border. Finally, there is a white line that runs along the back. The sides are chestnut and the tail dark.

The hens are much drabber, but also easily identified. They are brown with a white spot in front of the eye, with another outlining the lower cheek and a white ear spot. The belly is lighter than the rest of the body.

Similar Species: None

Range: They are a western duck, which can be found through the Canadian and northern US Rockies.

Habitat: It prefers fast flowing rivers where it can dive for aquatic invertebrates. They are quite sensitive to disturbance though, and the increased popularity of canoeing, kayaking and rafting has led to serious drops in population. In some areas within the Canadian mountain parks, recreation has been limited to try to preserve populations of harlequin ducks.

Diet: They dive for caddisfly and stonefly larvae, fish eggs and other fast water invertebrates.

Nesting: They nest along fast flowing rivers like the Bow or Maligne, looking for islands or sheltered areas along the riverbank. They build a simple hollow, lined with plants and down, into which the hen will lay 5-9 yellowish to olive eggs. Incubation is 23-25 days after which the precocial chicks hatch. Almost as soon as they hatch, the chicks become accomplished swimmers and divers.

Search for recent Harlequin Duck sightings

Hire an expert guide to help you locate Harlequin Duck

Bird watching in the Canadian Rockies offers endless opportunities for seeing new species. Mountain Nature Network is your source for birding and bird biology.


All Material Ward Cameron 2005

 

 

Birds by Common Name:

 

Birds Listed by Latin Name: