9 Interesting Facts about the Ring-Necked Duck

The pudgy Ring-necked Duck was a mystery to me the first time that I came upon them at the marsh. I took some pictures and then after getting home had to go to the field guides to find out what they were. To me, if the Northern Pintail is the Cary Grant of the marsh, then the Ring-necked Duck is the Buddy Hackett. “Fun” barely describes the experience of trying to get some good shots of these birds.

Here is some information that I’ve gathered about this stout little duck.

  • The Ring-necked Duck might better be called the “Ring-billed Duck,” for its chestnut neck ring is usually seen only at close range, while the white ring on the bill can be a prominent field mark.
  • The Ring-necked Duck’s breeding habitat is wooded lakes or ponds in the northern United States and Canada.
  • Ring-necked Ducks are omnivores and feed mainly by diving or dabbling at the surface.
  • Ring-necked Duck pairing starts during spring migration. Unpaired ducks showing up on breeding grounds will most likely end up being non-breeders. The pairs stay together only for reproduction, afterwards, they separate.

Ring-Necked Ducks in Flight

Ring-Necked Ducks in Flight

  • The Ring-necked Duck’s nest is bowl-shaped, built on water in dense emergent vegetation with sedges and woody plants.
  • The female Ring-necked Duck lays one egg per day until 8 to 10 eggs are laid. They are incubated 25–29 days. The female may remain with the young until they are able to fly.
  • Ring-necked ducklings are dependent on animal matter such as insects, earth worms, leeches, midges and snails. As they mature they tend to change their diet to vegetation like submerged and emergent plants.
  • Because the Ring-necked Duck never gathers in large flocks, it has not been hunted extensively like some of its relatives.
  • A fast flier, the Ring-necked Duck undertakes longer migrations than most other diving ducks.

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