Harlequin duck — Ducks Unlimited Canada
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Know your waterfowl

Harlequin duck

Histrionicus histrionicus

Harlequin pair. ©DUC

Harlequin ducks are named for the ornate, clown-like appearance of the males.


  • Basically slate-blue, males are highlighted in black-outlined white striping and accented by daubs of rust-brown on the lower body and brownish black at the wing-tips.
  • Females are well-camouflaged in basic brown.

Habitat: Favours rocky shorelines of rapid streams, frequents coastal estuaries and islands.

Range: East and west coasts of North America. Eastern range extends from Greenland and Labrador as far south as New Jersey. Western range is from Kamchatka Peninsula and Siberia north across the Bering Strait and back down through Alaska, inland throughout much of the Rockies, and as far south as the central California coast. The ranges are separate and populations are much higher in the west.

Some southward migration takes place but most movement is inland for breeding and nesting and seaward for wintering.

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