Living Bird Magazine
Ring-necked DuckAythya collaris
- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
The male Ring-necked Duck is a sharply marked bird of gleaming black, gray, and white. Females are rich brown with a delicate face pattern. At distance, look for this species’ distinctive, peaked head to help you identify it. Even though this species dives for its food, you can find it in shallow wetlands such as beaver swamps, ponds, and bays. Of all the diving duck species, the Ring-necked Duck is most likely to drop into small ponds during migration.More ID Info
Find This Bird
You can find Ring-necked Ducks in fairly small, shallow wetlands. They breed mainly across far northern North America, so check the range map and look for them during migration and in winter, when they can form large flocks. Don’t look for a ring around the neck—it’s really hard to see. Look instead for the bird’s peaked head shape, white ring around the bill, and white patch just in front of the gray flanks.
- Porrón Acollarado (Spanish)
- Fuligule à collier (French)
- Cool Facts
- This bird’s common name (and its scientific name "collaris," too) refer to the Ring-necked Duck's hard-to-see chestnut collar on its black neck. It’s not a good field mark to use for identifying the bird, but it jumped out to the nineteenth century biologists that described the species using dead specimens.
- During fall migration, Ring-necked Ducks can form immense flocks. Several hundred thousand congregate each fall on certain lakes in Minnesota to feed on wild rice.
- Ring-necked Ducks on their breeding grounds occasionally get attacked by the much larger Common Loon, the Red-necked Grebe, and even the much smaller Pied-billed Grebe.
- The oldest known Ring-necked Duck was a male, and at least 20 years, 5 months old. He was banded in 1964 in Louisiana and was shot in 1983, in Minnesota.