Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo has been hosting a diverse array of native waterfowl lately! We’ve been seeing American coots and a female long-tailed duck for some time now. More recently, they have been joined by a group of female gadwalls and a male ring-necked duck.
The male ring-necked duck is at right, with the black head.
If you’re looking for the ring around the neck of that last one, don’t bother. It’s extremely hard, perhaps impossible, to see this ring in the field. There is, however, a faint collar that’s noticeable with the ring-necked duck in hand.
The species’ name originated back when people were describing birds from museum specimens and naming them accordingly. Rather than trying to pick out the collar around this bird’s neck, you can use the ring around the tip of the bill and the outline of the base of the bill—both are bright white—are good field marks to identify the species.
Like many duck species, ring-necked ducks eat underwater vegetation and aquatic invertebrates. They’re one of many species that have been using Nature Boardwalk as a stopover on their migratory path south. Come to Nature Boardwalk to see these birds on their way!