Ring-Necked Duck

Aythya collaris
Range Map

Most diving ducks prefer larger water bodies with deep water, but the Ring-Necked Duck will settle on relatively small and shallow ponds during migration and on the breeding grounds. In winter, they often gather in large flocks.

Ring-Necked Ducks breed in Alaska and across central and southern Canada. In the Lower Forty-Eight states of the USA, they breed in places such as western Montana, eastern North Dakota, the Great Lakes Region and in Maine. Anywhere to the south of Colorado and Kansas and all the way into Mexico might host these ducks in winter. Their winter homes also include the Atlantic coastal zone from New England to Florida, and the Bahamas and the northern Caribbean Islands.

I think a more obvious name for the Ring-Necked Duck would be “Ring-Billed Duck”. The ring on its neck is nearly impossible to see without the bird in hand, or with luck in perfect light, whereas the ring on the bill is rather conspicuous. Until recently, all my encounters with these ducks have been on their winter grounds in southern California, Arizona, southern Nevada, and central New Mexico. Update! While touring Canada in 2022, I met a pair of these ducks in the Canadian province of Alberta.

Today, scientists regard the Ring-Necked Duck as monotypic (i.e. no subspecies).

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