Ring-necked Duck, Aythya collaris
Ring-necked Ducks inhabit a variety of freshwater habitats, including lakes, ponds, marshes, and wooded swamps. They can be found across North America, with their breeding range extending from Alaska and Canada to the northern and central parts of the United States. During winter, they migrate to southern parts of the United States and Mexico.
Ring-necked Ducks are named for a faint, hard-to-see chestnut-colored ring around their necks, which is more visible on males. Males have a striking black head, black breast, and gray sides. Females have a brownish overall plumage with a lighter face and a distinctive white ring around their bills.
These ducks are known for their diving ability and can stay submerged for extended periods. They have strong wings, which enable them to take flight quickly from water or land.
Ring-necked Ducks are diving ducks and forage primarily by diving underwater to reach their food. They feed on a variety of aquatic invertebrates, such as insects, crustaceans, and mollusks. They also consume plant material, including seeds and aquatic vegetation.
During the breeding season, Ring-necked Ducks form pairs. The female selects the nest site, which is typically located on the ground in dense vegetation near water, often concealed by tall grasses or shrubs. They may also nest in tree cavities or use abandoned nests of other birds. The nest is a shallow depression lined with plant material and down feathers.
Ring-necked Ducks typically lay around 7-10 eggs, with an average of 8 eggs per clutch. The eggs are creamy-white or pale green in color. The female incubates the eggs for approximately 25-29 days. The male usually leaves after mating to molt and regrow his flight feathers.
Once the eggs hatch, the female leads the ducklings to the water within a day or two. The ducklings are precocial, capable of swimming and finding their own food shortly after hatching. They primarily feed on invertebrates and small aquatic organisms found in the water. The female provides protection and guidance to the young.
The young Ring-necked Ducks fledge at around 45-55 days after hatching. They become independent but may remain in family groups for some time.
During winter, Ring-necked Ducks migrate to more southerly regions within their range, where they can find open water and suitable foraging habitats. Ring-necked Ducks can be found in a variety of wetland habitats in their winter range, including coastal bays, estuaries, and freshwater lakes. They prefer areas with ample vegetation and open water for diving and foraging. They may also use flooded fields and reservoirs as winter habitats.