Last Bird


This week’s photo, taken December 31, 2015 from Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington state, features two adult male HARLEQUIN DUCKS.

Every 12 months, countless birders await the arrival of January 1st, when they venture out with boundless enthusiasm to find their first bird of the new year. Perhaps you know a few birders who have already announced their first species of 2016.

As a twist on that popular practice, I’m sharing with you my last bird seen in 2015, and it’s a beauty. Many people consider the HARLEQUIN DUCK to be North America’s most attractive sea duck, and I’m not going to argue with any of those people.

During the remaining minutes of daylight in 2015, these ducks are enjoying a New Year’s Eve meal consisting of crabs. The duck on the left, ready for another tasty morsel, performs its next dive to the crab buffet at the bottom of these shallow waters. In a few seconds, the other Harlequin will follow.

Cards and prints for the new year:


About Joe Sweeney

I photograph birds to share the beauty and wonder I find in nature.
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4 Responses to Last Bird

  1. Deborah says:

    What gorgeous birds!

  2. Chris says:

    They are beauties! For several years, even before we moved here, there has been a wintering Harlequin seen each year along the Estero Bluff coast above Cayucos, south of Cambria. This year three Harlequins are being seen in the same area. Jim and I are planning to look for them this weekend. Have you been to Estero Bluff? It is probably our most knock-out gorgeous place to bird in SLO, although there are so many there might be someone to argue it.
    Our last bird of the year was a Scaly-breasted Munia, or a couple dozen of them. They reside in the yard of an Audubon member who has at least a dozen feeders, behind the train station in town. The old name was Nutmeg Mannikin.

  3. Marlene Prendergast says:

    That is spectacular! Thanks. Marlene Prendergast


  4. kathydoremus says:

    Oh…I am jealous…Orca Island is where I most want to go!

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