• American Camp parade ground looking west

    San Juan Island

    National Historical Park Washington

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  • American and English Camps Visitor Centers Open Labor Day

    The American and English camps visitor centers will be open on the Labor Day holiday, September 1. Call 360-378-2240, ext. 2226 or 360-378-4409 for information.

  • English Camp Visitor Contact Station on Winter Schedule

    The English Camp visitor contact station in the Royal Marine Barracks is closed for the season, starting September 2. Grounds are open daily from dawn to 11 p.m.

  • American Camp Visitor Center on Winter Schedule

    The American Camp visitor center is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from September 2 to June 6, 2015. Grounds remain open daily from dawn to 11 p.m. Telephone 360-378-2240, ext. 2227 or 2226 for information. More »

Harlequin duck

Harlequin duck
Harlequin ducks are often seen in the Jakle's lagoon area of Griffin Bay during the winter months at American Camp.
Eric Reuter
 

The male’s breeding plumage is particularly striking in these small sea ducks, which are about half the size of a Mallard. Mostly dark, slate blue, they have rust-colored flanks and bold white patterning on the head, sides, and back.

The females don’t have the same colorful markings, so look for other distinguishing features: Compact bodies, rounded heads, and short bills. Plus, they nod their heads up and down while swimming.

Strong swimmers, these ducks prefer turbulent water along exposed rocky coastlines. They dive for prey on or near the seabottom as well as pry mussels from rocky crevices with their stubby bills.

During spring and summer, they can be found in fresh water, where they dive to the bottom and actually walk against the current searching for fish eggs and larvae. They’ve also been known to flip stones to retrieve fish eggs.

 
Fast facts Harlequin duck

Did You Know?

Capt. Geoffrey Phipps Hornby, RN

Capt. Geoffrey Phipps Hornby of HMS Tribune refused Governor James Douglas’s orders to land Royal Marines on San Juan Island realizing that his opposite, Capt. George Pickett, would open fire. The policy of the Royal Navy was only to fire if fired upon. More...