Population status

Harlequin Duck
(Histrionicus histrionicus)

For management purposes, there are two distinct populations of Harlequin Ducks in North America: the Western population along the Pacific coast, and the much smaller Eastern population, along the Atlantic coast. The Western Population appears to have remained relatively stable over the years with estimates ranging from 150,000 to 250,000 birds; and harvest pressure on the population is low. The Eastern population is small and information about the timing and magnitude of the decline is unknown. In 1990, this population was initially assessed as being Endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). However, the COSEWIC reassessed it as Special Concern in 2001 and it was subsequently listed as such in 2003 under the Species at Risk Act. The reassessment was based on increasing population trends (Bowman et al. 2015), the discovery of large numbers of Harlequin Ducks breeding in northern Quebec, and linkages between breeding and wintering grounds in North America with the moulting and wintering grounds in Greenland (Brodeur et al. 2002, Chubbs et al. 2008, Robert et al. 2008b). Both populations have a national population goal and are at an acceptable level relative to their respective goals. Detailed information on the population status of waterfowl species is available in the Population Status of Migratory Game Birds in Canada report (summarized version). To obtain a copy of the full version of this report, including tables and graphs, please contact ec.scf-oismiggibiers-cws-miggamebirds.ec@canada.ca.


Population goal and acceptable levels of variation

Species/groupGoalLower levelUpper level
CanadaNot applicableNot applicableNot applicable
Eastern PopulationAbundance required for de-listing (SARA)Equal to goalNot applicable
Western PopulationLong-term average of the time series10th percentile of observed abundance (1970-2012)Not applicable