RING-NECKED DUCK(Aythia collaris) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Ring-necked duck has a neck ring but it is hard to see, as it is reddish-brown on a background of black for the head, back and breast in the drake. The bird sides are grey and the under parts white. The bill in the drake is black with one white ring near the base and another one near the tip. Females have a dark brown head top and back and lighter brown sides, and a dark bill with a faint white ring near the tip. The forehead of this duck is rather flat. It is similar in color pattern to the Greater and Smaller scaups. The ring-necked duck is around 45 cm (17 in.) long.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Aythya-collaris
NAME: Part of the English name refers to this duck’s neck plumage, and the name ‘duck’ is from Anglo-Saxon ‘duce’, which means ‘diver’. The Latin genus name ‘Aythya’ comes from Greek and refers to a ‘kind of water bird’. The Latin species name ‘collaris’ means ‘neck’.
HABITAT: The ring-necked duck is a diving duck of fresh water habitats. It is frequently seen on beaver ponds and other wooded lakes.
DIET: This duck feeds on invertebrates and aquatic plants. They can also be found feeding on wild rice in Lake of the Woods in Ontario and in Minnesota.
NESTING: The ring-necked duck builds its nest in emergent vegetation where it is dense and over the water. About a dozen grey or green eggs are laid, which are incubated by the female.
DISTRIBUTION: The breeding range of this duck covers the mid-latitudes of Canada. . Its wintering range is mainly in the southern USA and Mexico. These ducks form very large flocks during migration. Some individuals will spend the winter on Hawaii.
Distribution map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring-necked_duck#/media/File:Aythya_collaris_range_map.png
ON PEI: The ring-necked duck breeds on Prince Edward Island. It is very common on the island, except in the winter.
CONSERVATION: Hunting of this duck is legally allowed in North America, and several hundred thousands are killed each year. Populations can fluctuate depending on their wetland conditions. These ducks are vulnerable to lead poisoning from spent shot that they find with their food sources. In spite of this they are not considered at risk.
NOTES: This diving duck swims under water to reach its food sources.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Tufted Duck – (here’s an article to help distinguish the Lesser from the Greater Scaup)
REFERENCES: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ring-necked_Duck/id
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Birds Atlas)

Ring-necked Duck at Old Rainbow vally Pond, PEI – photo by Roberta Palmer
Ring-necked duck, by Roberta Palmer

Ringed-neck duck pair – Priest Pond, PEI – July 20, 2017 – © Lois Kilburn
Ring-ducked pair, PEI, by Lois Kilburn