Yellowstone’s Rare Ducks

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 4:55 PM CDT
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A rarely seen, but beautiful animal is breeding in Yellowstone now.

So few people know how and where to find it, it’s easy to stay away from other visitors and socially distance.

The journey starts in the eastern part of the park, on the Yellowstone River. Seekers hike down a snow covered walk, and carefully down a snow and ice covered stairway. They have to make the trip in May.

Dr. Charles Preston explains, “And they breed here in Yellowstone. The males will leave here in the next couple of weeks…by early June.”

Preston studies golden eagles, but on this day, he is looking for the magnificent Harlequin Duck. The males look like they are paintd: colbalt blue with white facial markings, and rusty patches on the heads and wings. They’re named Harlequin Ducks, after the painted court clowns of 16th century Europe.

A photographer from Utah, Beau Day said he and his friend from Utah brought big lenses to get the best shots.

He said, “Right now they’re just resting on some rocks and it makes for a really nice photo. if you can get them resting on the rocks and get a slower shutter with the water looking all smooth it can be really cool.”

According to Super Volcano expert Dr. Robert Smith, LeHardy Rapids, where the ducks visit is remarkable for another reason. it’s a very rare intersection of two faults. So, the rapids here are very rapid: just right for harlequin ducks.

Preston explained, “They feed in these rapids they’re able to withstand the rapids, and this is a real protection for them as well.”

On this day, this place is a protection for human who were trying to stay away from other humans.

Beau Day said, “We’re the only ones right now on the boardwalk. so, definitely a spot to get away from the crowd, and even just the noise and the hustle and bustle of the national park here. it’s a great place right now to social distance yourself.”

The Harlequins are in Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier National Parks during breeding season.

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