Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)


French: Arlequin plongeur German: Kragenente Spanish: Pato arlequín

Anas histrionicus


, 1758,

America = Newfoundland ex Edwards


Pacific population has been described as a geographical subspecies, pacificus, but doubtfully valid. Monotypic.


Breeds from L Baikal, Siberia, E to Aleutian Is and Alaska, S in USA to SE Idaho and probably N California; E Canada S to Gulf of St Lawrence, Greenland and Iceland; probably Baffin I. In winter reaches waters off Korea, Japan and, in USA, Maryland and N California.

Descriptive notes

38–51 cm; male 581–750 g, female 485–682 g; wingspan 63–70 cm. Male unmistakable, appearing dark grey-blue and black at distance, with white... read more


Considered to be usually rather silent, but those calls that have been described are all designed... read more


Breeds on swift torrents and rapid streams in rugged uplands, although birds breeding close to... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly molluscs (e.g. gastropods such as Littorina sitkana), crustaceans and, in spring and summer, insects and their larvae/pupae... read more


Starts May/Jun, e.g. egg-laying commences mid May in Iceland, but mostly from last week of May with peak laying in first half of Jun (later... read more


Not truly migratory; in winter disperses along sea coasts within breeding range, with males... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and common, locally abundant species. Protected against hunting and egg-collecting in Iceland and Greenland.... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 February 2020).