I thought this resight information would be of statewide interest, and

On 6 January, I managed to photograph a banded immature male Harlequin Duck
in the icy waters at Shinnecock Inlet. The bird was sporting a blue band on
its left leg with white characters “CI.” I was extraordinarily lucky to
capture a legible photo of the leg band and didn’t even notice it until I
was processing photos later that evening. Out of the dozens of photos I
captured I had one opportunity where the bird rolled to its right while
preening, briefly exposing its left leg and ultimately the band.

There are several researchers in North America (both East and West Coast)
who band Harlequins within their respective, isolated breeding territories.
What makes this resight particularly remarkable is the fact that "CI" was
banded at Glacier National Park in Montana this past summer (2017).

Harlequin Ducks have historically been divided into two separate and
distinct ranges; the Pacific coast and the Atlantic coast. Early
nomenclature actually delineated two subspecies;* H. h. histrionicus*
(Atlantic) and *H. h. pacificus* (Pacific) but this distinction is no
longer recognized. Based on past and current research, it has always been
understood that western breeding populations winter along the Pacific coast
and eastern populations along the Atlantic, as one would expect. According
to the research, the 6 January 2018 Shinnecock resight constitutes the
first ever documented record of a "Pacific coast" Harlequin Duck migrating
to the Atlantic coast. There is a previous record of a juvenile, first-fall
Harlequin Duck, also with Montana origins, taken by a duck hunter on Lake
Erie a few years ago. I’m still working to track down the details of that
record (location, date, etc.) but other than that, there is no existing
evidence that West Coast breeding populations make the long journey east
across the continent to winter along the Atlantic coast. Needless to say,
this new evidence raises many questions and will keep the research teams
scratching their heads for some time. Hopefully continued related studies
will shed more light on the complex life history of this declining species.

Photos of the bird can be viewed in my eBird checklist:

Big thanks to Lucas Savoy from BRI (Biodiversity Research Institute) for
helping me track down the band origins.

Derek Rogers


NYSbirds-L List Info:

1) http://www.mail-archive.com/nysbirds-l@cornell.edu/maillist.html
2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L
3) http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01

Please submit your observations to eBird:


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