Five photos of Harlequin Duck, and how to identify it

11/22/2016 | 0

Harlequin Duck, male, at Barnegat light, New Jersey.

Harlequin Duck, male, at Barnegat light, New Jersey, Hotspot Near You No. 77, April 2015, by Harry Collins.

Migration maps published in our November-December 2016 issue show where you can see Harlequin Ducks this winter.

Winter strongholds for the sea duck include the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, or Dungeness NWR, Washington; Cape Saint Mary’s, Newfoundland; Isle au Haut, Maine; and Sachuest Point NWR or Beavertail State Park, Rhode Island. Photographer Harry Collins found the adult male above at another good spot: Barnegat Light, New Jersey, our Hotspot Near You No. 77.

Harlequins typically arrive during the first week of October, and their numbers increase until mid-December. The ducks remain until the beginning of April, when they start returning to their breeding grounds. By late May, they are usually all gone.

Harlequin Ducks along the Oregon coast.

Harlequin Ducks along the Oregon coast by Gary Miller.

There’s no mistaking a male Harlequin viewed from close range. But seen from a distance, as above, the same dark blue and brick-red bird can appear mostly black. When it does, it’s best to concentrate on the duck’s small size and unique shape.

Harlequin Duck is smaller and weighs less than all other sea ducks — Common Eider weighs more than three times as much — and its bill is smaller and stubbier than any scoter’s.

Harlequin Ducks at Barnegat Light, New Jersey.

Harlequin Ducks at Barnegat Light, New Jersey, Hotspot Near You No. 77, by Charles Wen.

What’s more, the patterns created by a Harlequin’s white feathers are unique: On males, a small white dot and a large white crescent mark the face, and white stripes bordered with black outline the chest. On females, look for three blurry white spots on the face: a dot behind the eye, a tiny smudge in front of the eye, and a smear below it.

Harlequin Duck at Pea Island NWR, North Carolina.

Harlequin Duck at Pea Island NWR, North Carolina, by Jeff Lewis.

Harlequin Duck at Barnegat Light, New Jersey.

Harlequin Duck at Barnegat Light, New Jersey, Hotspot Near You No. 77, March 21, 2015, by Harry Collins.

Our November-December 2016 issue containing maps showing where to find Harlequin Duck went on newsstands at Barnes & Noble and other retailers on November 8.

See more photos of Harlequin Duck.

Read about Sachuest Point NWR, Rhode Island’s Harlequin hotspot.

Read about Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, New Jersey, Hotspot Near You No. 77.

 

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