Photo: Mark Eden/Great Backyard Bird Count Participant

Ring-necked Duck

Aythya collaris

Although it mixes freely with other diving ducks on large lakes in winter, the Ring-neck is also found on small, tree-lined ponds, and associating with dabbling ducks on shallow waters. A strong and fast flier, it is able to take flight by springing up directly from the water, without the laborious take-off run of most diving ducks. Despite the name, the ring on its neck is almost never visible.
Conservation status Numbers apparently stable. Since about the 1930s, has become a much more widespread and numerous breeding bird in eastern Canada and northern New England.
Family Ducks and Geese
Habitat Wooded lakes, ponds; in winter, also rivers, bays. In summer on freshwater marshes, ponds, and bogs, mainly in openings in forested country. In migration and winter on ponds, lakes, slow-moving rivers, sometimes on coastal estuaries, but generally not on saltwater bays.
Although it mixes freely with other diving ducks on large lakes in winter, the Ring-neck is also found on small, tree-lined ponds, and associating with dabbling ducks on shallow waters. A strong and fast flier, it is able to take flight by springing up directly from the water, without the laborious take-off run of most diving ducks. Despite the name, the ring on its neck is almost never visible.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male, breeding
  • adult female
  • adult male and female, nonbreeding
  • adult female, breeding
Feeding Behavior

Forages by diving, usually in water a few feet deep. Also forages at surface and sometimes up-ends in shallows. Opportunistic, it may move into flooded fields to feed.


Eggs

8-10, sometimes 6-14. Vary in color: olive-gray, pale brown, pale buff. Incubation is by female only, 25-29 days. Young: female leads young to water 12-24 hours after they hatch; young may return to nest at night. Unlike many diving ducks, female and brood often hide in marsh rather than seeking safety on open water. Young find their own food, are capable of flight 49-55 days after hatching. Female may remain with young until they are old enough to fly, unlike most ducks.


Young

female leads young to water 12-24 hours after they hatch; young may return to nest at night. Unlike many diving ducks, female and brood often hide in marsh rather than seeking safety on open water. Young find their own food, are capable of flight 49-55 days after hatching. Female may remain with young until they are old enough to fly, unlike most ducks.

Diet

mostly aquatic plants, insects. Diet varies with season and habitat. Feeds on seeds, stems, and roots of many aquatic plants, including pondweeds, sedges, smartweeds, grasses, algae, and others. Also eats aquatic insects and mollusks. Young ducklings feed mainly on insects.


Nesting

Pair formation activity begins in winter. Courtship displays by male include laying head far back and then thrusting it forward; also swimming with head feathers erected, nodding rapidly. Nest site is on dry hummock, clump of brush, or mat of floating vegetation, close to open water. Nest is shallow bowl of grasses, sedges, weeds, lined with down.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Migrates in flocks. Migration is relatively late in fall and early in spring.

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Migration

Migrates in flocks. Migration is relatively late in fall and early in spring.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Soft purring notes, but usually silent.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Duck-like Birds Surface Feeding Ducks

Ring-necked Duck

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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