Status: A rare winter visitor to wetlands from October to March, almost always associating with flocks of Tufted Duck.
Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population is regarded as Secure.
Identification: Very similar to Tufted Duck and care is needed to distinguish the two species. Slightly smaller than Tufted Duck and lacks that species distinctive crest. Adult males can be separated from Tufted Duck by having much greyer flanks with a white vertical stripe, as well as different pattern on the bill (broad white stripe near the tip). Adult females appear quite different to female Tufted Duck, being much paler overall and having an obvious white eyering. Also shows a hint of the obvious vertical white stripe found on the flanks of the male. Juvenile Ring-necked Ducks are similar to females, though the head pattern is not as contrasting and lacks the broad white stripe on the bill.
Similar Species: Tufted Duck
Call: Generally silent when seen in Ireland.
Diet: Mainly feeds by diving for freshwater invertebrates (beetles, shrimp). Ring-necked Ducks will also feed on plants, such as pondweeds.
Breeding: Ring-necked Ducks breed in central and northern North America.
Wintering: The species winters south of the breeding grounds in the United States to Central America. Occasionally wanders to Ireland and then can be seen with Tufted Duck on larger lakes. In September/October 2008, a flock of 15 was recorded on Inishmore on the Aran Islands.
Where to See: Ring-necked Ducks could be seen in any large flock of Tufted Ducks in Ireland.
Monitored by: Irish Wetland Bird Survey and BirdTrack.