Harlequin Duck is a small duck of fast streams and rivers in the summer, and
pounding coastal waters in the winter. Studies on the species have
shown that many adult birds have suffered broken bones in their past,
obviously due to their preferred habitats. They are generally only
short distance migrants from the summer breeding locations, and thus are
only very rare visitors to the deep interior of the continent. The
Birds of South Dakota (SDOU, 2001) lists only a single documented case of
the species in South Dakota. One was also seen below Oahe Dam near
Pierre in the winter of 2003.
summer, they are found along fast moving streams and rivers, often in forested
lands of Canada, Alaska, and the extreme U.S. Northwest. During migration
and winter, they are mostly found on the ocean, often in extremely rough coastal
mollusks, crustaceans, and
insects. Will also feed on marine worms, small fish, and a small amount of
Behavior: Uses a variety of techniques to forage
for food, including diving and swimming underwater and dabbling on the
water's surface. Strongly associated with water, they usually tightly
follow the course of a river in flight, rather than fly overland.
Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota.
Song: Usually silent, but both sexes have low
croaks, and the male has quite squeaks during courtship.
Migration: Summers in Alaska, western Canada, and
locally in the Northwest U.S., as well as locally in eastern Canada.
Winters along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, generally from the
northern U.S. and along Canada and Alaska.
Similar Species: The male is
generally unmistakable, but the female is somewhat similar to a female Bufflehead.
Status: Populations in the western part of North
America are generally stable, but eastern populations have declined
substantially since 1900.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Harlequin Duck"
Photo Information: June 22nd, 2006 - Kenai
Peninsula in Alaska, near Soldatna - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Harlequin Duck photos.