|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Female Harlequins and young birds lack the lustre of the drakes. The female has plain, brownish-grey colouring that is darkest on its head, a white patch extending below and in front of each eye, and a prominent white ear patch. The belly is white with brown speckles. Young birds strongly resemble the adult females. They have the white spot between the bill and eyes, as well as the prominent round ear patch. However, the feathers on the upper body of the young are darker than those of adult females, and the belly is more finely barred, giving an overall greyer appearance. The young males achieve some adult features during their first winter, but do not grow full adult plumage until two or three years of age. |
On the Atlantic coast, the Harlequin Duck is "endangered" and occurs only in remote locations. Harlequins can be seen more easily in western Canada, where they are more abundant and occupy sites near urban areas. Globally, the Harlequin Duck occurs over a wide geographic range in four separate populations. Two populations occur in Canada: the western population along the Pacific Coast and the eastern population along the Atlantic Coast. Although there are an estimated 200 000 to 300 000 Harlequin Ducks in the western population, the eastern North American population today consists of fewer than 1 000 individuals. Historically, the endangered east coast population had been estimated at 5 000 to 10 000 birds.
In spring, the birds begin their migration to inland nesting sites that are usually along smaller river tributaries. Migration to the traditional wintering areas, which may encompass the moulting sites, takes place from October to November.
Both populations disperse widely over their ranges. The western population breeds in Alaska, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington. Western birds winter from the Aleutian Islands south including in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California.
The eastern population breeds in Labrador, northern Quebec, the Gaspé Peninsula, the island of Newfoundland, and northern New Brunswick. Labrador and northern Quebec are the most important nesting areas for the eastern population of Harlequin Ducks due to the abundance of clear turbulent streams and rivers. Eastern Harlequins winter on the island of Newfoundland, in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and south as far as Virginia. However, the primary wintering grounds are in coastal Maine.
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