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Ringnecked Duck

Aythya collaris

Diving Ducks Family

Waterfowl Identification

Male Ringnecked Duck
Female Ringnecked Duck
Similar Waterfowl:
Scaups, females resemble female Redheads
Although male ring-necked ducks resemble their counterparts in greater and lesser scaups, their peaked, angular head profile, distinctive white bill markings, and uniformly dark upper wings distinguish them. Female ring-necked ducks most closely resemble female redheads, but are distinguished by their smaller size, peaked, angular head profile, and pale region around the face. Male ring-necked ducks have an iridescent black head, neck, breast and upperparts. The belly and flanks are whitish to grayish with a distinctive triangular white wedge extending upward in the area in front of the folded wing. The bill is slate with a white border around the base and nares and a pale white band behind the black tip. Their name is derived from a faint brownish ring around the base of the neck, which is only visible close-up. The legs and feet are gray-blue and the iris is yellow. Female ring-necked ducks have a brown head with a black crown, light brown cheeks and chin, and a white eye-ring. A narrow white line extends from the eye to the back of the head. The bill is slate with a faint white band near the tip. The neck, back, sides, and flanks are brown and the belly is white. The legs and feet are gray-blue and the iris is brown.
Typical Size:
The male and female average 17 inches in length and weigh 1 3/4 pounds. They have a wingspan of 27 inches.
They prefer sedge-meadow marshes, swamps, and bogs surrounded by woody vegetation, as well as ponds and shallow lakes.
Ring-necked ducks breed from southeastern and east-central Alaska, central British Columbia eastward through northern Saskatchewan to Newfoundland, south to northeastern California, southeastern Arizona, southern Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, northern New York, and Massachusetts. Female ring-necked ducks nest in flooded or floating emergent vegetation and lay an average of 8 to 10 eggs.
Ring-necked ducks dive in shallow water to feed on tubers, seeds, and leaves of moist-soil and aquatic plants. They also eat aquatic insects, snails, and clams.
The majority of ring-necked ducks migrate through the Central and Mississippi Flyways to inland wintering grounds along the Gulf of Mexico and the southern Atlantic coast of the USA. In winter, ring-necked ducks use a variety of habitats, such as fresh and brackish marshes, shallow lakes, estuarine bays, and coastal lagoons. Ring-necked ducks are winter visitors to Central America and the northern Caribbean.
Flyway Patterns:
The ringnecked duck is most commonly found in the Central and Mississippi flyways.
Flight Formation:
Small flocks in irregular loose formation. Strong direct flight at speeds of 50 MPH.
The male has a rare PURRR and the females are usually silent.

Ringnecked Duck Flight and Plumage Characteristics

This guide will help you recognize ringnecked ducks on the wing - it emphasizes their fall and winter plumage patterns as well as size, shape, and flight characteristics. The ringnecked duck is most commonly found in the Central and Mississippi flyways and fly as small flocks in open formation, often landing without circling.. Although similar in appearance to scaups, in flight, the dark wings of the ringnecked ducks do not have the white-edges like scaup. The faint brown ring on drake's neck never shows in the field, but the light bands at tip and base of bill are conspicuous.They are most often found in fresh marshes and wooded ponds. Drakes purr, but the hens are usually silent.