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Posts Tagged ‘Aythya collaris’

Some bird species are very territorial and will chase off intruders, while others are content to peacefully coexist with members of other species. Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) are definitely in the latter category—they barely reacted when this Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) passed through the middle of their flock, weaving his way in and around the much larger birds.

I love to capture images with multiple species in a single frame. In this case, I am curious why the duck chose to swim through the geese rather than going around them. Was he courageous and bold? Was he stubborn and determined?

How will you face the upcoming new year? Here’s hoping that, like this little duck, you will be able to move confidently forward towards your goals, mindful of the obstacles that face you, but unbowed by them.

 

Ring-necked Duck

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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Even when they are dozing, ducks seem to be keeping an eye on me, including a male Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris), a male Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus), and a male Ruddy Duck, all of which I spotted this past week floating on a local pond.

 

Ring-necked Duck

Hooded Merganser

Ruddy Duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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At this time of the year several species of ducks migrate into my area and take up residence for the winter. One of the most distinctive species is the Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris), especially the male. Even from a distance you can notice the oddly peaked head and when you move in closer you can see the multi-colored bill and the bright yellow eyes if it is a male. As is most often the case with birds, the females are less colorful in appearance, though, as you can see from the final photo, they are quite beautiful.

I spotted a small flock of these ducks yesterday in a nearby suburban manmade pond where I have seen then annually for at least the last five years. Although Ring-necked Ducks are diving ducks, they don’t seem to require really deep water.

So where is the ring around the neck? According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “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.”

 

Ring-necked duck

Ring-necked duck

Ring-necked duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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The blue and gray colors of this male Ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris) seemed to be a perfect match for the cool tones of the icy waters of the suburban pond where I spotted him earlier this week. All of those cool colors also really make the warm yellow of his eyes stand out.

Ring-necked duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am not sure what is so special about the small pond in Kingstowne, a suburban development not far from where I live, but every year about this time a group of Ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris) shows up and generally spends the winter there. There are not too many other local places where I find this particular duck species.

I know that Ring-necked ducks are diving ducks rather then dabbling ducks like Mallards and I wonder if the depth of the water in the pond is the determining factor in their decision. I am always happy each year to see the golden eyes, striped bills, and odd-shaped heads of these Ring-necked ducks.

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Ducks

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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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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As I was going through some of my bird photos, I realized that a majority of them feature the male of the species. The males tend to be more loud and flashy, so I guess it’s not surprising that they draw my attention much of the time. The female often has a more delicate beauty and coloration, as is the case with this female Ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris) that I photographed recently.

I added an image of a male Ring-necked duck that I photographed the same day to allow you to make your own comparison and judgments. It may be a cliché, but it is nonetheless true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

ring-necked_female_blogring-necked_male_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Migrating birds are starting to arrive in my area, including a few Ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris) that I observed last week in a man-made pond in a nearby suburban housing area. The water in my local marsh tends to be too shallow for these diving ducks, but this pond seems to suit them pretty well.

The ducks tend to stay near the center of the pond, which makes them a little challenging to photograph. These shots were taken from a distance, but they let you see some of the beautiful details of the male Ring-necked duck, including the pattern on his bill and his beautiful golden eyes.

If I have the good luck that I had last year, I look forward to seeing and photographing another half-dozen species of ducks in the coming months.

ring-necked_duck2_blog

ring-necked_duck1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s a little ironic that I took these photos of a Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris), some of my best duck photos, in a man-made pond in my neighborhood, rather than in a more natural setting. I have never seen any Ring-necked Ducks at my marshland park—perhaps the water is not deep enough for these diving ducks—but found them in a very suburban setting.

The light was bright on the day when I watched some of these ducks diving and resurfacing every couple of minutes. The glare was pretty intense on some of my initial photos and I didn’t like the way they turned out.

However, there is a walking trail all of the way around the pond, so I went off in search of a better lighting situation.  When I reached an area of open shade, I encountered this duck near the shore. Unlike his fellow ducks, he seemed to be relaxing and was remarkably cooperative in letting me take his portrait.

If you are like most people, you may wonder why this duck is not called a ring-billed duck, because there doesn’t seem to be any ring around his neck. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the bird’s name refers to the hard-to-see chestnut collar on its black neck, which apparently jumped out to the nineteenth century biologists that described the species using dead specimens.

ring_neck2_blogring_neck1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I photographed a lot of ducks last weekend and have already posted photos of Mallard and Hooded Merganser. As I was going over my photos, I realized that I had a third kind of duck, though I was not immediately sure about its identity. Fortunately they have very distinctively colored bills and yellow eyes, so I was able to identify them as Ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris). As I watched them, I noticed too that they are diving ducks, rather than the dabbling ducks that I am more used to seeing. I don’t know how long they can hold their breath, but it seemed like they stayed underwater a long time.

The light was a bit harsh when I took these photos, but hopefully they are clear enough for you to see and appreciate the beauty of this duck, a type that I had never before encountered.

Ring-necked duck

Ring-necked ducks in early November

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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