We came upon three of these birds while kayaking last evening among the big rocks that line the shore. They flew off, and we continued paddling. We found them again when we rounded a corner, but now there were a dozen or more - all with this brilliant coloring. They looked embarrassed, and flew off. They are strong, fast flyers.
Why so many male birds all together? Our bird book explains that Harlequin Ducks mate along fast-moving streams in the mountains. Then the females stay in the mountains to raise the young, and the males come down to the coast, where they hang out together in gangs and molt. The Captain says there must be a metaphor here somewhere.
(Photo from avesphoto.com.)