Hunts By Species: Harlequin Duck

harlequin duck
Harlequin ducks are uniquely colored, and widely regarded as among the most beautiful of North America’s waterfowl species.

Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionics) is a unique, beautifully marked sea duck that makes its living on rocky marine shorelines, moving to inland white water streams to breed. Looking somewhat like an abstract master artist painted it, the harlequin duck is defined primarily by its deeply dark denim-blue plumage, chestnut flanks and thick white brushstroke highlights forming white circle behind the eyes, a crescent behind the bill, a thin slit further back on the head, a thick collar, and a diagonally positioned patch pointing towards the chest. The head is a deep navy blue and the rest of the body is a dark sooty blue, old penny-colored chestnut sides. Hen harlequin ducks lack the color contrast; are muted soot color with a distinctive white patch behind the head similarly to drakes. Harlequin duck vocalizations have been described as  “sea mouse.” More squeaks than quack variations.