Harlequin Ducks on Hornby Island

WIN team heads to Hornby Island in pursuit of all things Harlequin, in support of its film project on the life history of Harlequin Ducks. Five WIN members braved harsh late-winter conditions along Canada’s Georgian Strait to observe Harlequin Ducks on their traditional wintering grounds.

Lisa Bate, WIN’s Director of Research and Glacier National Park biologist has been conducting research on Harlequin Ducks for the past decade – focused primarily on Harlequin breeding grounds along GNP’s turbulent streams. After visiting Hornby Island in 2016, Lisa’s enthusiasm from her experience was palpable, and inspired fellow WIN members to re-trace her footsteps this year.

Organized by Dick and Pam Walker and guided by celebrated naturalist Josh Covill, the WIN team spent six days recording Harlequin Duck behavior in Port Angeles, WA, and along the coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. For the most part, their efforts took place on Hornby Island, two ferry rides east of Vancouver Island.

On Hornby Island, they met with Dr. Sean Boyd, a Harlequin researcher working for Canadian Wildlife Service, who shared his life-long experiences with these sea ducks that are exceptionally colorful both in appearance and behavior. In mid-to-late March, the Pacific Herring spawn in the waters surrounding Hornby Island. In pursuit of fuel before departing for their breeding grounds, Harlequin Ducks gravitate to the area by the hundreds to feed on the abundance of Herring roe.

Leave a Reply