Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Team Ringed-Necks

Ringed-neck on the Pond
Getting Frisky
Puffy Peaked Head
Black, White & Gray Markings
En Masse
Wonder What the Turtles Think?
Daffy Duck. That was my first though upon seeing my first-ever ringed-neck duck. Like the cartoon character, the males have a puffy and peaked black head. Unlike the cartoon, though, the males have beautiful gray, white and black markings.

The females, like other duck hens, are the safe colors of dry nesting grass and rushes -- brownish. Yet, just like the males, both genders of ringed-necks have a distinct beak. It's a blue-gray bill with a black tip and a white ring. It's easy to spot with the binoculars.

What isn't easy to spot is the cinnamon-colored ring that encircles their necks. It is fro this ring that they get their name, but I'll be darned if I can see the marking. This is my third season of trying to spot it and I can't see a cinnamon-colored ring. I can see the white ring on beaks; not on necks.

This is a diving duck and no surprise there. Elmira Pond has enough tadpoles, early peepers, fish and aquatic plants to attract divers. Dabblers stop over, too but not as frequently as the divers. And ringed-necks are impressive divers. They can go as deep as 40 feet where they prefer to dine on bottom aquatic plants.

Like mallards, ringed-necks will sleep, floating on the pond. I can tell when they are sleeping because they twist their heads back to lie their beaks upon their backs. How peaceful to sleep and float en masse with your brethren. The sleeping group looks like bobbing tuxedos with more males present than females.

So far, I've counted five males and three females. They are monogamous and solitary nesters which always surprises me each year when they turn up in a group with odd numbers of genders. By May the males will be gone. I've not seen baby ringed-necks on the pond. Ducklings remain a favorite food of eagles and we have a hearty population in this valley. Or maybe, I just can't see the ducklings among the hiding rushes.

March Madness is fun for spotting the colorful males. They get frisky and beat at the water with their wings. After their "games" they will move on.

This is part of a March Madness Series. Vote for your favorite team!


  1. I guess we have to wait for the full collection to be added before we take the poll. I have a soft spot for widgeon, in truth, going back to my boyhood when dad talked about them - along with another fav of his, the great crested grebe. You have some great bird life to observe at the pond Charli.

    1. There are grebes in Sandpoint. What did your Dad like abut the wigeons? I didn't even know about wigeons until I moved to Elmira. I love their wheezy little peeping sounds, but they do mystify me each year. March Madness is now complete! The link at the end should take you to the post with the survey. Go vote for wigeons!