Ring-necked Ducks (Aythya collaris) are common winter residents and transients on ponds and small lakes here in southeastern Arizona. Ring-necked Ducks spend their winters in the southern United States and the regions further south, and they will then migrate northward in the spring to their breeding grounds in the northern United States and Canada. I observed these very tame Ring-necked Ducks wintering on the small, warm, spring-fed lake in Tucson's Agua Caliente Park in January of 2006.
Male Ring-necked Ducks have a black head, chest, and rear, along with a whitish belly, gray sides and a large, white crescent on each side of the breast. Instead of a rounded head, these ducks have a peaked crown, which is prominently displayed on the male Ring-necked Duck below.
Although they can most easily be identified by their white-ringed bills, Ring-necked Ducks instead get their name from the inconspicuous chestnut collar around the necks of the males. This chestnut ring can just barely be seen on the neck of the male aggressor in the photo below.
Many of the ducks at Agua Caliente Park are quite tame because they are used to being fed, and they will come right up to shore. A few of the male Ring-necked Ducks were a bit aggressive toward each other in the prime feeding spots and would snap at any other males that got too close.
The less aggressive female Ring-necked Ducks stayed a bit further from shore. The females are brownish, but like the males, the females also have white-ringed bills.