• American Camp parade ground looking west

    San Juan Island

    National Historical Park Washington

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  • English Camp Visitor Contact Station on Summer Schedule

    The English Camp visitor contact station in the Royal Marine Barracks is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily through September 1. Grounds are open daily from dawn to 11 p.m.

  • American Camp Visitor Center on Summer Schedule

    The American Camp visitor center is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through September 1. Grounds remain open daily from dawn to 11 p.m More »

  • Brief American and English Camps Visitor Center Closure

    The American and English camps visitor centers will be closed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, August 27. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

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. Lewis Cass Hunt

Capt. Lewis Cass Hunt, who squabbled with Capt. George E. Pickett over buildings on San Juan Island, was the brother of Henry Hunt, who commanded the Union artillery at the Battle of Gettysburg. Hunt's guns would largely decimate Pickett's division before they reached the Union lines.