In the years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen and photographed only a few Ring-necked Ducks — two pairs in 2009, and one pair in 2011. So, it was with surprise and delight that last week I witnessed a small flock, about a dozen, visiting our southern end of the pond.

A few came close enough for me to photograph. The photo here is of two pairs, the hens leading, with the drakes following in their breeding plumage (Oct-Jun). Off-season, the males are similar to the females in appearance, but with a dark head and breast.

The least observable feature of the Ring-necked Duck is the ringed neck. Cinnamon in color, it is often hard to see in the wild.

There’s no shortage of distinguishing features, however: a peaked head, a white ring around the tip of the bill, a fine white border around the male’s bill during breeding season, and a prominent “spur” pattern where the side joins the breast, white on the male during breeding season, and pale on the female. The male’s eyes are pale yellow, the female’s brown with a white ring.

The Ring-necked Duck is a medium-sized, North American diving duck. It’s a formidable migrant, some vagrants having been seen as far away as Central America and the British Isles.

The photo was taken on March 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm.

Note: During the first half of March this year, I witnessed more migrating ducks than usual on the pond. In another post, I hope to report more completely on this gathering most fowl, but I thought the Ring-necked Ducks deserved a special shout-out, for appearing in such numbers, and reminding us of Woody Allen’s famous dictum that, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

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Related: Lesser Scaups, March Migrants 2013.

 

2 Responses to Ring-necked Ducks

  1. Marc Rudnick says:

    Ring-necks are reliable annual visitors, though their numbers are up on Hardy this year. Buffleheads are generally fewer, but we’ve had a lingering raft of over a dozen this year – more than I’ve ever recorded out here. They seem to like to hang out with the suave Ring-necks and avoid the clownish Mallards. This month has also been graced with arrival of Common and Hooded Mergs, Coots, Wigeon, Ruddy and Black Ducks.

  2. Jim Fett says:

    Quite magnificent looking waterfowl. Great photo Ron!

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