Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Ring-necked Duck - Aythya collaris
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General Comments The Ring-necked Duck is the most common of the diving ducks in winter on the state's inland waters, with flocks often numbering in the hundreds on some lakes. Unlike the other Aythya species, it favors large ponds, lakes, and reservoirs with forested shorelines and does not typically inhabit the deeper middle portions of large lakes and open waters as much as the other diving ducks. Trends seem to be stable or slightly on the increase, and certainly there is much more wintering habitat in North Carolina now than a few decades ago, thanks to an increase in reservoirs and beaver ponds.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S5N
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Winter resident. Generally fairly common, to locally common, both coastally and well inland. Unlike most other ducks, swans, and geese, it is not more common in coastal areas than inland, and it can be somewhat local at refuges and impoundments along and close to the coast. Generally mid-Oct to mid-Apr, but can be scarce after Mar. Peak counts: 10,150 at Singletary Lake SP (Bladen), on 18 Nov 2015; 5,500 at this site, on 27 Dec 2015.
Piedmont Winter resident. Fairly common to common, and even locally very common, most numerous in the eastern portions, such as in Wake and at Pee Dee NWR (Anson). Mainly late Oct to late Mar; has rarely continued in summer. Most unusual has been a male seen at a pond in southern Lee for six consecutive summers (2017-2022). Peak counts: 4,000, Roanoke Rapids Lake (Halifax/Northampton), winter 2002-03; 1,369, 4 Jan 2003, Pee Dee NWR.
Mountains Winter visitor/resident. Fairly common transient but only uncommon in winter; mainly at lower elevations, particularly in the southern mountains. Mainly mid-Oct to mid-Apr, rarely to 31 May. Most unusual was a male at New River SP (Ashe) from 25 Jun - 15 Aug 2021; and a male stayed at Lake Julian (Buncombe) all summer 2023. Peak counts: 214, Cashiers (Jackson), 8 Nov 1985.
Finding Tips This duck can be found in large numbers on Raleigh lakes such as Wheeler and Benson It is found on most CBC's across the state. You should be able to find it coastally on many impoundments and lakes at NWR's. You will not see the species on the sounds.
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Attribution LeGrand[2023-10-18], LeGrand[2023-03-02], LeGrand[2022-12-22]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
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