Harlequin Duck

Histrionicus histrionicus:

Image of a male and female harlequin ducks, Histrionicus histrionicus, standing on a rock near the water.
Image by Yellowstone National Park on Flickr, public domain

Physical: The Harlequin Duck is a small to medium-sized sea duck, recognized for its vibrant and intricate plumage patterns. Males boast a striking mix of blue-gray feathers, with distinct white patterns and rusty-colored sides. They also feature bold white crescents in front of their eyes and collar-like patches around the neck. Females are more understated with soft brown hues, but still, exhibit white patches around the eye and at the base of the bill. Typically, they measure between 16 to 20 inches in length and have a wingspan ranging from 26 to 28 inches.

Habitat: Harlequin Ducks favor fast-flowing rivers and streams during the breeding season, which are typically found in mountainous regions. In winter, they migrate to coastal areas, inhabiting rocky shorelines, tidal pools, and estuaries.

Feeding: With a penchant for aquatic insects, crustaceans, and small fish, Harlequin Ducks are skillful divers. In freshwater habitats, they consume a variety of insects and their larvae, while in marine environments, they primarily eat mollusks and crustaceans.

Breeding: Nesting close to freshwater streams, females select concealed spots under shrubs, between rock crevices, or other hidden places to lay their eggs. The clutch generally consists of 5-7 eggs. After hatching, the female leads her offspring to suitable feeding grounds, ensuring their safety from predators.

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