|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.|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Download Our Bird Guide App
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
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsSoft purring notes, but usually silent.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Ring-necked Duck
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Ring-necked Duck
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.