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A photo of a Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris), male
Ring-necked Duck, Male

Ring-necked Duck

Aythya collaris

The Ring-necked Duck, a small to medium-sized member of the diving duck family, presents a striking appearance. Males boast a glossy black head and back, with a white breast and flanks, and a distinctive white line on the wings. Their bill is grey, adorned with two white rings. Females, on the other hand, display a more subdued palette of greyish brown with a darker back and a less pronounced light band on the bill. Both sexes have characteristic yellow eyes, but the male's are particularly vibrant.

Identification Tips

To identify the Ring-necked Duck, look for the male's bold white markings and yellow eyes, or the female's brown eyes with white rings. The male's cinnamon neck ring is often elusive to the observer, earning the species the nickname "ringbill." The angular shape of the head is a key feature in both sexes.

Habitat

These ducks favor freshwater ponds and lakes, often with wooded surroundings, which provide ideal breeding grounds.

Distribution

The Ring-necked Duck breeds predominantly in the northwestern boreal forests of the United States and Canada, with some breeding occurring in the eastern boreal regions of Canada. Come winter, they migrate to the southern United States, frequenting lakes, ponds, rivers, and bays.

Behaviour

During spring migration, Ring-necked Ducks form pairs, though unpaired individuals on breeding grounds are likely to remain non-breeders. Post-breeding, pairs disband. They construct bowl-shaped nests on water amidst dense vegetation, where the female lays 8 to 10 eggs and incubates them for 25 to 29 days.

Song & calls

The female Ring-necked Duck is known to make a soft, rolling call that sounds like "trrr."

Breeding

The breeding habitat of choice is wooded lakes or ponds. The female is solely responsible for nest building and incubation, and may stay with her brood until they are fledged.

Diet and Feeding

Ring-necked Ducks are omnivorous, with ducklings feeding on animal matter such as insects and snails. Adults primarily consume submerged and emergent plants, though they continue to eat snails and other animal matter.

Conservation status

The Ring-necked Duck is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population.

Vagrancy

This species is a strong migrant and a rare but regular vagrant to western Europe, occasionally reaching as far as Central America, Suriname, and French Guiana.

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Ring-necked Duck Fun Facts

Did you know?
Despite their name, the ring of the Ring-necked Duck is almost never visible.

Ring-necked Ducks on Birda

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