Surf’s Up

Harlequin Ducks are noted for the male’s colorful plumage. But they are also well-known rough water lovers. They feed close to rocky shores in heavy surf in the winter and in turbulent streams and rivers in the summer. Broken bones are quite common among these ducks. This is a male I photographed riding heavy swells where they were breaking on the rocks.

This closeup shows the very colorful pattern that inspired the name of this duck.

The crest of the wave is closing in.

The duck makes a last second dive into the swell as the wave sweeps into the rocks.

He popped back up after the wave passed.

Here’s another surfer in action. He is lifted up on the rising wave crest.

He doesn’t dive down into the wave but plows right through the crest.

These ducks feed on the invertebrates that cling to the rocks at the edge of the water and don’t have much competition from other ducks for their meals. But you can also imagine them doing it for the thrill as well!

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