A small black-and-white diving duck, the male Ring-necked Duck may most readily be distinguished from the closely-related scaups by its size (15-18 inches), black back, and the unique white bill stripe dividing the bill’s gray base from its black tip. In flight, it may also be identified by its gray (not white, as is the case with the scaups) wing stripes. Female Ring-necked Ducks are similar to female scaups, but are slightly lighter brown and have more pronounced eye rings. The Ring-necked Duck breeds in a broad swath across southern Canada and the northern tier of the United States from the Maritime Provinces to the Yukon. Most Ring-necked Ducks migrate south for the winter, when they may be found across the southern two-thirds of the United States, Mexico, and the West Indies. In the past century, this species had expanded its breeding range westward into Alaska and eastward into the Great Lakes region. During the summer, the Ring-necked Duck breeds on shallow, freshwater marshes. In winter, this species is more flexible in its habitat preferences, but prefers shallow bodies of freshwater such as ponds, lakes, and reservoirs. The diet of the Ring-necked Duck consists of aquatic vegetation (such as seeds and tubers) as well as small invertebrates (such as insects and larvae). One of several species of “diving ducks” in North America, Ring-necked Ducks may be observed submerging themselves to feed on aquatic plant matter or insects. In winter, they may also be observed in small flocks on shallow ponds and lakes. This species is primarily active during the day.
A common migrant, October to December and February to May, and an occasional winter resident. Seen here more often in fresh water than the other bay ducks. Sexes are different.
The duck on the left is a female.
Collected By: Edward J Brown
Locality: Potomac Flats, DC
Catalog ID: 234253
The duck on the right is a male.
Collected By: Wm H Ball
Locality: Patuxent River (Benedict, MD)
Catalog ID: 307841