Three ducks which are the most difficult of all to tell apart are the ring-necked-duck and the great and lesser scaup. Even experts will argue when they have the actual specimens in hand. Usually a bird book with accurate identifications is consulted.

The ring-necked-duck has a black tip, a white band and a grey band on the bill. The others have light blue-grey bills as will be detailed later.

The winter plumage of the adult male consists of a black head and neck, glossed with purple iridescence, sometimes glowing a green or reddish-green sheen.

The head is marked by a crown, where the others are round headed. The breast is a shiny black without the iridescence and the belly is white. The wings are an indistinct brown-grey. The female does not wear the crest but carries the band of white on the bill. She is mostly mottled-brown in general appearance.

Their wintering grounds extend from the tip of Florida to the Carolinas and westward to the Mississippi, the greatest concentration settling along the Gulf Coast. During the summer months, you can readily find them nesting in upper New England, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. They seldom go farther north except in the midwest fly-way where they go up beyond and west of Hudson's Bay. There is a small amount of them on the West Coast along the shores of British Columbia and down into the San Francisco Bay area of California.

The ring-necked-duck is a first-class table bird, although its smaller size causes the hunter to pass it up for the larger and more popular species. It is preferred over the scaup and golden eye.

The ring-necked-ducks decoy readily and generally pitch right in without fanfare or a pre-scanning trip. Many will come bulleting in at once, their little feet and fast wings momentarily set to break the flight and the water when they splash in. They are quite a sight as they hit the water. They flock in open formation and sometimes come into the blind in a string or all at once in a bunch like grapes.

They are essentially a freshwater duck although they do find their way to the wetlands of the coastal areas where brackish waters are present. Almost all of their food is made up of vegetation and they dive for shoots the puddle ducks cannot reach.

They are particularly nervous while feeding, floating or walking about clumsily on the ground. Why the nervousness does not apply to the times they come into the decoys we do not know, but it is fortunate for the hunter that they are so easy to attract.

They normally nest in wet, boggy places along the edges of marshes, sloughs and ponds. The actual nest is barely above the level of the water and it would seem that the eggs would be subject to wetting if the level of the water should rise from a sudden rainfall. The female lays from eight to twelve eggs.

As is usual with all ducks, the mother assumes all the duties, the males having long since departed to spend the summer as bachelors, until the time of the autumn flight when they rejoin the females for the trip south.

Their fall migration starts in October and in the spring they work northward slowly, starting in April, if the weather permits. They are quite often seen in the north just as the ice goes out from the lakes.

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