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Posts Tagged ‘Aythya collaris’

Many of the birds seemed to have sought shelter from the strong winds yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park, but this female Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) went about her daily grooming routine without paying any attention to the weather conditions. She did, however, seem a little shy and struck a coy pose when I pointed my camera in her direction.

Ring-necked Duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Experienced birders know that this is not an Indigo Cone-headed duck. In fact, there is no such bird—I simply made up the name because I was not really satisfied with calling this bird a Ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris). It is definitely a cool-looking bird, but where is the ring around its neck?

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology explained this conundrum with these words:

“This bird’s common name (and its scientific name “collaris,” too) refer to the Ring-necked Duck’s hard-to-see chestnut collar on its black neck. It’s not a good field mark to use for identifying the bird, but it jumped out to the nineteenth century biologists that described the species using dead specimens.”

I’m in favor of having practical names that are descriptive of live specimens that I might encounter. If Indigo Cone-headed duck doesn’t work for you, how about Ring-billed duck? I’d enjoying hearing any creative ideas you might have about renaming this handsome little duck.

Ring-necked duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As we move deeper into fall we will be seeing more and more migrating birds in Northern Virginia, where I live . Some will just be passing through the area, but others will probably overwinter here, like these Ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris) that I spotted yesterday at a small suburban pond less than a mile from my townhouse.

Unlike most of the ducks that I see, Ring-necked ducks are diving ducks, not dabbling ducks. As a consequence, they spend most of the time in the middle of the pond, making them a bit tough to photograph. Fortunately the sun was shining brightly yesterday, so that I was able to capture the ducks’ golden eyes even when shooting at a distance.

Ring-necked duck

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Many of the mallards and Canada Geese were resting on the ice on the mostly frozen little pond near where I live, but the Ring-necked ducks all remained in the water the entire time that I watched them. How are the able to tolerated the frigid waters that must be just above the freezing point?

Whenever I moved toward the shore of the pond, the Ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris) would all turn their backs on me and swim away, which complicated my efforts at taking photos of them. However, the edge of the ice limited somewhat their ability to distance themselves from me and I was able to capture some images of them, including this one of a male Ring-necked duck.

As is most often the case, you can’t see the chestnut-colored ring around the bird’s neck—I probably would have named it the Ring-billed duck and occasionally make the mistake of using that improper, but more logical name for this beautiful little duck.

Ring-necked duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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The suburban retention pond near where I live has almost frozen over, but there are still a few ducks and geese, huddled together in the open areas of unfrozen water. Many of them appeared to be sleeping, with their bills tucked under one of their wings, but this male Ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris) seemed to be keeping his golden eye on me as he struggled to stay warm.Ring-necked duckRing-necked duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although the rings on the bills of the Ring-necked Ducks (Aythya collaris) are very distinctive, it is their beautiful eyes that really draw me in, whether it be the startlingly yellow eyes of the male or the more subtle brown eyes of the female.

I never see these ducks in the ponds of my local marshland park, but each winter over the past few years, I have seen them in a small water retention pond in the middle of a suburban townhouse community near where I live.

Ring-necked DuckRing-necked DuckRing-necked Duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Have you ever watched ducks taking off from the water? Some of them seem to rise up almost straight out of the water, while others, like this Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris), like to get a running start, bouncing across the surface of the water.

bouncing_takeoff_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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