COLUMN: Elegant Harlequin remarkable to watch

Birds of Nakusp

Gary Davidson

In my opinion, there is no duck more elegant looking than a breeding plumage male Harlequin Duck. It would be very difficult to describe in words the appearance of this bird since the pattern and colours are so intricate. But essentially a breeding male is a combination of blue, white and chestnut brown as you can see in this photograph.

In interior B.C., Harlequins breed on rushing mountain streams. It is quite remarkable to see this duck swimming in fast creeks. They seem to be able to defy the strength of the moving water, remaining still sometimes as the water rushes by. Then without warning they disappear below the surface, only to reappear somewhere downstream. Then they seem to be able to swim back upstream, using rocks and back eddies to avoid the fastest water.

Since we have an abundance of such streams in our region, it is surprising to me that this bird isn’t seen more frequently in the valley. The Kuskanax, in particular, should provide ideal nesting habitat. Despite this, I have seen Harlequins up Kuskanax Creek only once. On a few other occasions, including this month, I have seen them in the lake near the mouth of the Kuskanax, in spring. These could be birds arriving for the summer and preparing to head up the creek. There is a lot of creek up that valley and it would be easy to miss them. For some reason they are much less common in the fall. I suspect they leave the breeding grounds and head directly toward their wintering grounds.

As with most duck species, the male Harlequin plays no part in the incubation of eggs of the care of young. When the females start incubating the eggs, the males depart. Migration is primarily east-west for this species; those that breed in the interior, head to the coast for winter. Harlequins are a common site around the southern B.C. coast in the non-breeding season.

Just Posted

Marijuana to be legal in Canada Oct. 17: Trudeau

Prime Minister made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

Unregulated private land logging continues near Nelson at Cottonwood Lake

Sunshine Logging of Kaslo is cutting on private land in the area of Giveout Creek Road

Mt. Abriel recreation site open for use

Mountain bike trails and campsites ready this season

COLUMN: Interesting visitors to our region

Gary Davidson: Birds of Nakusp

VIDEO: B.C.’s ‘unicycle cowboy’ aspires to be rancher one day

Burklan Johnson has only ridden a horse once, but this unicyclist has big plans to become a cowboy.

UPDATED: Crown appeals B.C. polygamous leader’s acquittal in child bride case

James Oler had been charged with taking his underage daughter to the U.S. to marry her off

Housing would cut number of B.C.’s vulnerable re-admitted to hospital: study

New SFU work shows just how costly frequent hospitalization is to the province’s health care system

Disney production filming at Government House on Vancouver Island

Made-for-TV movie will feature the inside of the Victoria mansion

3 dead after semi-truck collides with car on B.C. Interior highway

Police said the intersection between Highway 97 and Highway 99 would remain closed for some time

VIDEO: Trafalgar students shave their heads for cancer charity

Molly Thomson and Solana Lam raised approximately $1,000

Keep your pets safe while driving

ICBC and SPCA join forces on pet safety awareness initiative

Region under severe thunderstorm watch

Environment Canada says conditions ripe for thunderstorms, rain and wind gusts.

Reports of explosion in Okanagan turn out to be squirrel vs. power line

The noise was described as ‘similar to a shotgun blast’ that shook the Earth

Most Read