The male harlequin is blue-gray, appearing
black at a distance, with chestnut flanks, a
chestnut wedge on the head, and distinctive white
patches on the head and body. The female is
dusky-brown, with three white patches on the side
of the face.
Distribution and Habitat
Harlequins breed across the Arctic regions of
North America from Alaska to northern Quebec
south to Labrador and California, as well as in
northern Asia and on Iceland. They winter along
both coasts of North America south to Long Island
and central California. They prefer highly
oxygenated streams and rivers in the summer and
wave-lashed rocky marine coasts in the winter.
Harlequins breed and nest along swift-moving
inland streams. Four to seven pale buff eggs are
laid in a mass of down in a nest site along a
brushy bank. The young hatch after 28 to 30 days
and are moved by the mother to backwater and
slow-moving channels. They are able to fly at
eight weeks, and by September are capable of
migrating with their mother.
Freshwater invertebrates are the favored food
of harlequins. During the winter months they use
their stubby bills to pry snails, limpets, crabs,
chitons, and mussels from the rocks, and in the
late winter months they feed on herring spawn.
They will also take fish eggs when available, as
well as the larva of blackflies, stoneflies,
caddisflies, mayflies, and other aquatic insects.
Habits and Behaviors
These expert swimmers are capable of riding
rapids, diving and probing among the bottom
stones of swift rivers and streams. At sea, they
feed at the place where high surf meets stony
cliffs and shoreline.
genus & species Histrionicus histrionicus
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Histrionicus_histrionicus/
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