I haven’t seen a Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) in many years and was delighted to find one today. Here is what my grandfather, Dr. J. Murray Speirs, wrote about them in his Birds of Ontario (1985):
The histrionic scientific name of this species was no doubt inspired by the improbable disruptive pattern of the male, with its slashes of white on a body mainly blue above and purplish red below. Actually in its habitat of river rapids and windblown bays the outlandish costume renders the bird hard to see by predators against the blue water with small whitecaps. This is primarily a bird of the west coast, with shadow population on the east coast and a few stragglers in Ontario, chiefly along the lower Great Lakes.
Here are some paintings by well-known Canadian artist Barry Kent MacKay. I have many posts of his work in the Friends of Miles section.
Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.
‒ Robert Frost.