Although male ring-necked ducks superficially 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 visible only upon close inspection. The legs and feet are gray-blue and the iris is yellow. Relatively silent except in display when a low whistling note is uttered. 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.
In winter, ring-necked ducks use a variety of habitats, such as fresh and brackish marshes, shallow lakes, estuarine bays, and coastal lagoons. During breeding they prefer sedge-meadow marshes, swamps, and bogs surrounded by woody vegetation
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, and vagrant to Trinidad and Venezuela. vagrant to Western Europe, most notably Ireland and the UK
Ring-necked ducks dive in shallow water to feed on tubers, seeds, and leaves of moist-soil and aquatic plants (pondweeds, coontail, water milfoil, hydrilla, sedges, grasses, wild rice, etc.). They also eat aquatic insects, snails, and clams.
This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 4,900,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 1,200,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
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. They prefer sedge-meadow marshes, swamps, and bogs surrounded by woody vegetation. Female ring-necked ducks nest in flooded or floating emergent vegetation and lay an average of 8 to 10 eggs.
Migratory; winters in lowlands mostly along Atlantic and Gulf coasts, but also following Pacific, and S to Panama and West Indies. A regular trans-Atlantic vagrant, most frequent in Britain, but records from most of Europe; has also occurred NW Africa (Morocco) and Japan.
- spanwidth min.: 62 cm
- spanwidth max.: 63 cm
- size min.: 37 cm
- size max.: 46 cm
- incubation min.: 25 days
- incubation max.: 29 days
- fledging min.: 49 days
- fledging max.: 56 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 6
- eggs max.: 14
- Conservation Status