A round white ear spot, reddish brown flanks, and a half moon patch in front of its eyes make the Harlequin Duck look as if it had been hand painted. With a squeaky call advertises its presence to the visitors of Cobble Beach; a trait that has earned it the title “sea mouse.”  It is not unusual to find this species roosting on the rocky shorelines of Oregon during the winter, however, they are not found in this particular area year round. Harlequins are migratory and they spend the summer around mountain streams and rivers where they build nests on the ground and cover them with feathers,

They are still one of the main attractions in this place. They blend so well with the surroundings that I always need to point them out so people can see them. It is only in the quiet days during low tide that one can hear their bizarre call. Three males and three females is the total count and they don’t seem to be in a rush to start migrating. Almost all the other birds in the area have started nesting, but these six ducks remain sitting on those rocks.

I am from California and I had only seen Harlequin Ducks in pictures on text books and field guides (Harlequins are not typically found in that state).  Five years ago, when I adopted bird watching as one of my hobbies, I wrote a list of all my favorite species and the ones I really wanted to see in the wild; the Harlequin Duck was on the top five of that list and now that I have seen it I can officially cross it out.

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