Ring-necked Duck

ring-necked duck
Ring-necked ducks easily distinguished by angular head, “nike stripe” on side pocket, and ringed bill.

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) derives its namesake from the adult drake’s inconspicuous darkly tarnished copper colored ring separating the black plumage of the head and neck that can only be seen in hand. Blackjack is a common nickname in southern portions of the US. Other ring-necked duck features include their peaked forehead and uniquely colored blue bill, ringed with white and tipped with black. Drake ring-necked ducks display yellow irises and black head plumage with purple iridescence. Drakes display polished black feathers on their chest, back, and to the tail. The underbelly of both sexes is white. While the drake’s side-pockets are vermiculated gray and the sides of the hen are vermiculated brown. The white underbelly curls around the breastbone into the stark black chest, forming a white “nike swoosh stripe” appearance while ring-necked ducks are swimming.  Dark upper wings and muted gray secondaries. In flight, an absence of white on their wings differentiates them at a glance from scaup, and if any diver descends as abruptly into the decoys with such tell-tale thunderous sounds of wings ripping air, I’ve not yet heard it!