• American Camp parade ground looking west

    San Juan Island

    National Historical Park Washington

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    The American Camp visitor center is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.Wednesday-Sunday. The English Camp contact station is closed through May 31. Grounds at both units are open from dawn to 11 p.m. 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?

Did You Know?

First Lieutenant James W. Forsyth was Capt. George E. Pickett's second in command on San Juan Island. Forsyth would become a brigadier general in the Civil War and go on to command the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Wounded Knee Creek in 1890.