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North Carolina Wildlife Species Information

Ring-necked Duck - Aythya collaris

Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris

Identification Tips:

  • Length: 12 inches Wingspan: 28 inches
  • Small, compact diving duck
  • Peaked crown
  • Dark wing with grayish flight feathers
  • Immature female similar to adult female, immature male is similar to female in autumn, but acquires alternate plumage during winter

Adult male alternate:

  • Alternate plumage worn from fall through early summer
  • Blue bill with white ring around base, white subterminal ring, and black tip
  • Yellow eye
  • Purple head and neck
  • Chestnut ring around neck is not easily visible
  • Black breast
  • Gray flanks with vertical white finger at forward portion
  • Dark back, tail, upper- and undertail coverts
  • Whitish belly

Adult male basic:

  • Similar to adult female

Adult female:

  • Dark brown crown and pale gray-brown face, becoming whitish on lores
  • Dark blue-gray bill with white ring before black tip
  • Brown eye with narrow white eye ring
  • Dark brown body plumage with very dark back

Similar species:

Adult males can be distinguished from Scaup by different bill pattern, black back and grayish flanks. Female can be distinguished from female Scaup by black tip on bill, and lack of distinct white patch on face. Female-plumage birds are distinguished from female-plumage Redheads by colder brown plumage, contrasting gray-brown face, and peaked crown.

Length and wingspan from: Robbins, C.S., Bruun, B., Zim, H.S., (1966). Birds of North America. New York: Western Publishing Company, Inc.

Above information used courtesy of United States Geological Survey.

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