The Ring-necked duck is a small diving duck from North America. Males are a little bit bigger than females. They have two white rings surrounding their gray bill, a shiny black angular head, black back, white line on the wings, a white breast and yellow eyes. Females have a grayish-brown angular head and body with a dark brown back, a dark bill with a more subtle light band than the male, grayish-blue feet and brown eyes with white rings surrounding them. The cinnamon neck ring is usually difficult to observe, which is why the bird is sometimes referred to as a "ringbill".
Ring-necked ducks breed in the northern United States and Canada and winter months they are usually found in southern North America. Their main breeding area is Northwest boreal forest territories. These birds inhabit wooded lakes or ponds, rivers or bays, freshwater marshes, and bogs, swamps, river floodplains and sometimes brackish portions of estuaries.
Ring-necked ducks are active during the day spending the time feeding, resting or sunbathing. They are social birds and during the non-breeding season, they are usually seen in flocks of up to 40 birds. During migrating and winter, they may gather in a flock of more than 10,000 individuals. Ring-necked ducks feed mainly by dabbling at the surface or diving to depths of up to 10 meters. They are usually silent but when disturbed or during flight females may produce a high pitched growl. Females also make a noise like 'trrr'.
Ring-necked ducks are omnivores and feed mainly on aquatic plants such as pondweed, coontail, wild rice, leaves, stems, water lilies, algae, and sedges. They also eat mollusks, snails, insects, leeches and other aquatic invertebrates. Ducklings are dependent on an animal matter such as insects, earthworms, leeches, midges, and snails.
Ring-necked ducks are serially monogamous and pairs stay together only for one breeding season. They start forming pairs during spring migration. Unpaired ducks showing up on breeding grounds will most likely end up being non-breeders. Males perform displays which include neck stretch, throwing back the head, and swimming while looking at the female. Ring-necked ducks start breeding in May and may nest solitary or in colonies. The nests are bowl-shaped, usually built on water in dense emergent vegetation with sedges and woody plants. Females lay 8 to 10 buff or olive eggs and incubate them around 25-29 days. Soon after hatching the mother leads her ducklings to water to teach them how to get food. The female may remain with her young until they are able to fly which occurs 49-55 days after hatching. Ring-necked ducks become reproductively mature and are ready to breed at one year of age.
Ring-necked ducks are not currently threatened. However, they do suffer from hunting and lead poisoning due to the ingestion of lead pellets that birds find on the bottoms of water bodies where they feed.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Ring-necked duck total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are increasing.
Ring-necked ducks play an important role in their ecosystem. They feed on aquatic plants and aquatic prey, thus controlling their populations. Adult ring-necked ducks, duckling, and eggs are a food source for many local predators including raccoons, red foxes, skunks, muskrats, raptors, and domestic dogs.