Posts Tagged 'Harlequin Duck'

Ambleside Park: January 30th 2010

After a hectic week of school it was nice to get out from behind the desk, but the weather today wasn’t particularly cooperative. It was raining off and on throughout the day so I decided to head out to Ambleside Park in West Vancouver which offers some decent birding, even in the wet.

The pond was pretty busy, as usual. Common Goldeneye, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Mallard, and American Widgeon were all going about their daily activities.

Some of the male Common Goldeneye were partaking in courtship displays. Several males were doing the “masthead” display “in which the male lowers and stretches his head parallel to water for up to 3 s, then quickly jerks his head upright pointing bill vertically, then snaps his head back down to water level and holds it there while paddling” (1).

Out on Burrard Inlet there was a group of Harlequin Ducks swimming in single file and making the occasional dive for marine invertebrates or small fish (2).

Even though the weather was a bit iffy I still had an enjoyable, if short, time out birding.


  1. Eadie, J. M., M. L. Mallory and H. G. Lumsden. 1995. Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:
  2. Gaines, W. L. and R. E. Fitzner. 1987. Winter diet of the Harlequin Duck at Sequim Bay, Puget Sound, Washington. Northwest Sci. 61:213-215.

Dundarave, and Whytecliff and Ambleside Parks: November 14th 2009

School work has kept me tied to my desk for the past three weeks but I managed to get in a few hours of birding in West Vancouver last Saturday. I visited Whytecliff Park first and then travelled east to Dundarave and Ambleside Park as the day wore on.

The weather was somewhat miserable with overcast skies and light showers but I find this is the best time to visit Whytecliff Park as it typically attracts quite a few people on the weekend (early morning is another good time to visit). While still in the parking lot I spotted Song and Fox Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee, and Varied Thrush. The tide was in when I arrived so I spent most of my time looking west at the section of Howe Sound that separates the mainland from Bowen Island. Several Species of Gull were flying up and down the Sound, and a single female Surf Scoter and two Common Golden eye also flew past. Looking down over the cliffs I observed a female Red-breasted Merganser diving in the water. After about fifteen minutes she was scared off by a boat that passed to close.

Two Pelagic Cormorants were foraging in Batchelor Bay and a Bald Eagle flew over the area for a bit before moving on to the west.

By the time I arrived at Dundarave beach it was raining lightly and a stiff breeze was blowing off of Burrard Inlet. I immediately noticed six Harlequin Ducks diving in the water to the east of the pier. Overhunting is a major cause in the decline of the species in eastern North America (Goudie 1989). I cannot understand why anyone would want to shoot such a good looking duck. The eastern population is currently listed as “endangered” in Canada; however, the global population is listed under “least concern” (Goudie 1991 and Birdlife International 2009). In BC the Harlequin Duck is on the “yellow list” meaning the population is not at risk (Anonymous 1995). Ten minutes was all I could stand in the cold out on the exposed pier.

The rain had stopped when I reached Ambleside Park allowing me to view the Hooded Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Lesser Scaup, and Bufflehead on the pond with some measure of comfort. Quite a few Mallard and American Widgeon were also present in addition to the resident Mute Swans.

Well I’m glad I finally managed to get out and do some birding. Three weeks of seeing nothing but crows and pigeons from the window of my bus ride to school is really pushing the mental limits of any birder.


Goudie, R. I. 1989. Historical status of Harlequin Ducks wintering in eastern North America – a reappraisal. Wilson Bull. 101:112-114.

Goudie, R. I. 1991. The status of the Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) in eastern North America. Committee On the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada (COSEWIC) Ottawa, ON.

BirdLife International 2009. Histrionicus histrionicus. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. <>. Downloaded on 21 November 2009.

Anonymous. 1995. Amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals not at risk in British Columbia; the yellow list (1994). Wildlife Bulletin no. B-74. Ministry of Environ., Lands and Parks, Victoria, BC.