Aythya collaris

Ring-necked duck drake. ©DUC

The ring-necked duck is one of the most abundant ducks of the western Canadian boreal forest.

Appearance

  • The ring-necked duck is misleadingly named for the chestnut-coloured ring around the black neck of the breeding male, as is it is barely visible when identifying birds from a distance.
  • Male has a black back, a white triangle in front of the folded wing, an angular head, white bars on the bill and uniformly dark wings.
  • Females resemble scaup and redhead females with the angular head and white band near the bill tip.

Breeding

  • Pairing occurs during spring migration so unpaired ducks arriving at breeding grounds are likely non-breeders.
  • Females build nests over water in emergent vegetation on wetland fringes.
  • Female lays an average of nine eggs and incubates them for 25 to 29 days.

Habitat: Prefer shallow wetlands fringed with emergent, submergent or floating vegetation like bulrush, pondweed and pond lily. Wintering ring-necks can be found on wild rice lakes.

Range: Core breeding area is the boreal forest of the Canadian prairies and parts of the Northwest Territories. Ring-necks winter across most of the southern and coastal U.S. as well as Mexico and the Caribbean.

Diet: Feed by shallow dives, eating mostly plant matter like seeds and tubers of submergent vegetation, but also snails, insects, leeches and other aquatic invertebrates.

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