Harlequin Ducks

****One of the most unique duck breeds****

===Physical Characeristics===

Length: Male 17.3" Female 15.8"

Weight: Male 1.44 lbs Female 1.22 lbs

Plumage: The males are a colorful red and blue which is used to attract mates by indicating healthiness

The females and young are a brown color to camouflage themselves from predators

Lifespan: 12-14 years

Call: Harlequin ducks make a unique squeak sound

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To the left is a female and the right a male

Identification and Areas

  • The Latin for Harlquin duck is Histrionicus histrionicus
  • There are two varieties of Harlequin Ducks, Atlantic and Pacific, being native to the areas of the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean

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Atlantic Harlequin Ducks breed in Greenland, Iceland, and in Canada including Quebec and Newfoundland
Pacific Harlequin ducks breed in western Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, and Columbia.
  • Harlequin ducks breed in their second year of life
  • They breed in May and June, the males perform a courtship dance to get mate
  • They lay 5-6 eggs that hatch in 27-29 days
  • Harlequin ducks nest on the ground, in trees, on cliffs, and on the edges of mountain streams(to protect eggs from predators)


Harlequin Ducks migrate laterally from inland to the coasts
Pacific Harlequin ducks winter in the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands and California
Atlantic Harlequin ducks winter in coastal Greenland, Iceland, Nova Scotia, and Maryland

Feeding Habits

  • Harlequin ducks dive for their food
  • They eat mollusks, crustaceans, small fish, insects, and fish roe


Pacific: 1 million individuals
Atlantic: 11,000 breeding pairs

Duck's Brood Rearing

  • In most duck species, only the female cares for the young
  • Unlike many other bird species that only get food brought to them by their mothers, baby ducks are self feeding, they are born with sight and feathers
  • Female ducks must keep the new born ducks warm and safe until they are old enough to keep themselves warm
  • The female duck selects a pond with plenty of food to rear the brood in
  • Ducks hatch during spring so that the young ducks could feed on the insect larvae that are abundant at this time and are easy prey
  • At this time, the young ducks and mother are vulnerable, this is where there camouflage is important
  • During migration, the older ducks help the younger ones reach the area where they winter

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