The Harlequin Duck found below the dam at Alma and viewed from the
Minnesota side of the dam on 1/5, had been seen the day before (1/4), but
not the day after (1/6).
The duck appeared to me to be in non-breeding plumage as it was dark and
appeared to lack the reddish coloration and longer tail of the breeding
plumage. The white markings were less extensive than in the breeding
plumage. The white stripe across the back at the base of the wing and the
stripe at the base of the neck were both missing. The vertical stripe that
extends from the front of the wing down to the water on the swimming duck
was thin, as shown in pictures in the Sibley and Nat. Geo field guides.
The spots on the head were as pictured on the nonbreeding male. The
stripe up the front of the head was more extensive than in the field
guide. The vertical stripe towards the back of the neck was thin, but
visible, unlike the pictures in the field guide. I was wondering if these
minor differences in the plumage might be characteristic of the smaller
population of Harlequins in eastern Canada that would be expected to winter
in the the great lakes area.
On Quigley Lake in Eagan, MN
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