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Birds of Illinois

Illinois Outdoors

Photo by Chris Young

Harlequin duck

Scientific Name: Histrionicus histrionicus
Present in Illinois: Late September to late April.
Illinois Status: Rare migrant and winter resident.
Illinois Range: Lake Michigan, very rare eleswhere in state.
Illinois Habitat: Occasionally flock with Bufflehead but usually seen close in to shore along rocks.
Winter Range: Throughout the United States, including regions where it is absent in the summer.
Length: 13-21 inches, wingspread 22-26 inches
Weight: 17.65-25.63 ounces
Description: Adult males are slate blue with white and reddish brown markings. Females and immature males are dark brown with white spots on head.
Song: Mouse-like squeak
Eggs: 3-9 pale cream color
Broods per year: One
Food: Insects, fish, marine invertebrates
Habits: In flight they keep their heads up and chests out; dives for prey on or near bottom.
Notable: When engaged in behavioral interactions, the Harlequin Duck gives distinctly un-ducklike squeaks, leading to one of its other names: sea mouse.
SOURCES—The Birds of Illinois by H. David Bohlen, All About Birds (

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