Ring-necked duck — Ducks Unlimited Canada Skip to main content
Wetland Waterfowl and Wildlife Identification

Ring-necked duck

Did you know

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. The 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.  

Common name: Ring-necked duck
Scientific name: Aythya collaris
Diet: Omnivorous
Average life span:
Length: 39-46 cm
Weight: 490-910 g

Food & 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.

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

Breeding & Population

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.

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 United States as well as Mexico and the Caribbean.

Interesting facts

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