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 Ring-necked Duck

Status in Michigan
Common Transient

Early Spring Date

Late Fall Date
Note: Early and Late Dates are being researched.
Image Credits
Count totals in the NMB Databases for Ring-necked Duck.

Use the links below to view the Ring-necked Duck reports in the respective databases.
If there are zero sightings for a particular season, that database will return no results.

Active Database - Spring 2005
View Ring-necked Duck sightings.
Ring-necked Duck Archives Reports
Fall 2003 389
Spring 2003 623
Winter 02-03 183
Fall 2002 1756
Summer 2002 0
Spring 2002 2278
Winter 01-02 192
Fall 2001 440
Summer 2001 3
Spring 2001 1378
Winter 00-01 19
Fall 2000 2244
Summer 2000 1
Spring 2000 2799
Winter 00-99 211
Fall 1999 3124
Spring/Summer 1999 20

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Ring-necked Duck

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
Active Database - Fall 2003
View Fall 2003 sightings.
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory Official Seasonal Count Summaries for the Ring-necked Duck
Fall 1999-Spring 2002
Ring-necked Duck
Note: Some species will not be present in the WPBO archives and will return no records.

Search "The Birds of Michigan" text.

Home - Foreword - Preface - Introduction - Hypothetical List - Literature Cited

Historical Text

Aythya collaris (Donovan)
Ring-necked Duck

Fairly common transient; summer resident in the Upper Peninsula and perhaps southward; winters locally in southern counties.

First recorded for Michigan by Sager (1839: 417).

This species may well be more common than reports indicate, since it is rarely found in large concentrations during migration, but rather in small scattered groups on most of the lakes and ponds of a given neighbor- hood. The Ring-neck is frequently in company with the somewhat similar Scaup Duck, so that, in a mixed flock, the two may be confused.

SPRING.-Individuals occasionally appear before mid-March, but the larger numbers arrive in late March and the first half of April in the Lower Peninsula, from the second week in April to the last of the month in the Upper Peninsula.

Lower Peninsula.-Trautman recorded 200 on the lower Detroit River, Wayne County, on April 19, 1936. Two specimens (March 15, 1908, and April 10,2023) were taken at the St. Clair Flats, St. Clair County (Swales and Taverner, 1907: 139; and Swales' notes). In the Ann Arbor region, late March to mid-April is the main period of migration (as many as 300 were reported on "Whitmore and neighboring lakes on March 31, 1935, by R. E. Olsen and A. D. Tinker), but individuals have been seen there in February, and a very late group of 3 pairs was seen near Saline on May 23, 1939, by C. H. Westman. At Portage Lake, Jackson County, R. E. Olsen, A. D. Tinker, and T. D. Hinshaw recorded 100 as late as April 14 (1935), and 20 on May 2 (1937). In the Battle Creek (Calhoun County) to Gull Lake (Kalamazoo County) area, individuals or small groups are seen during March, especially in the last week, but the species becomes more numerous during April (Pirnie and Walkinshaw, notes). F. W. Rapp (1931: 4-5) found it common at Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, from March 17 to April 21. Pirnie and H. L. Bradley noted 25 near Allegan, Allegan County, on March 29, 1938. Arrival was reported on March 23, 1894, in Bay County, where N. A. Eddy (1897: 47) found the species to be very irregular. It has apparently been either very rare or absent entirely from the east shore of Saginaw Bay, where Museum of Zoology field parties of recent years have not listed a single occurrence in spring. In the northern part of the peninsula, at Munro Lake, Cheboygan County, a flock was noted on April 24,1937, by Theodora Nelson; a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) was taken on Beaver Island, Charlevoix County, May 2, 1929.

Upper Peninsula.-Christofferson reported 6 Ring-necks on April 13, 1929, at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County; Van Tyne, Max M. Peet, and P. S. Lovejoy saw one group of 5, and another of 3, there on May 2, 1933; and a male was collected by Peet the same day. The species has occurred only very irregularly in the McMillan, Luce County, vicinity from April 19 (4 in 1938) to May 17 (2 in 1928), with the largest number a flock of 27 on May 2, 2023 (Bryens). At Blaney, Schoolcraft County, Christofferson has reported arrival commonly in the third and fourth weeks of April, but in 1938, as early as April 11 (6 pairs) ; more than 20 have seldom been seen there at any one time, although a flock of 60 was noted on April 14, 1938. On Isle Royale, Laurence Dayton listed this duck on 4 days between April 30 and May 15, 1937.

SUMMER.-In the Upper Peninsula eggs have been reported by June 5, hatching by June 28, and broods seen thereafter until well along in September.

Lower Peninsula.-There are no actual breeding data for this peninsula. There are, however, the following reports of summer occurrences (possibly accidental?) : 3 pairs in "Washtenaw County on May 23, 2023 (listed above with the spring records); a pair in June, 1896, at Baldwin Lake, Montcalm County (Barrows, 1912: 98). Pirnie (1935: 26; and notes) said the species was reported nesting at Houghton Lake, Roscommon County, but gave no nesting data.

Upper Peninsula.-In July, 1928, at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, Pirnie (1935: 26; and notes) saw several broods of nearly grown young; and on July 30, 1938, on Drummond Island in the same county, T. D. Hinshaw and R. A. MacMullan secured a juvenile (U.M.M.Z.) still unable to fly. Pirnie at Millecoquin Lake, Mackinac County, noted a group of 9, nearly grown, on August 8, 1936. Christofferson recorded a number of pairs (photograph, June 11, 1935, by Walkinshaw) regularly each summer for the past 10 years at Blaney, Schoolcraft County. At the same place Christofferson found a nest with 11 eggs on June 6, 1939, and observed several broods (3 in 1937, including an adult female with 8 young as early as July 28); on September 20, 1934, he banded 4 young there that he said could fly only 200 feet. At Seney, in the same county, Brodkorb saw a number of the species frequently in early June, 1938 (about 18 males on June 10) ; and in the following year H. L. Bradley found a nest with 9 eggs there on June 5, 8 young that had hatched June 28 or 29, and 6 other broods during July. At Mallard Lake, Alger County, Pirnie (1935: 26; and notes) found an adult with 10 young about two-thirds grown, on September 9, 1930.

FALL.-Migration in the "Upper Peninsula occurs chiefly from very late September through the first week in November and in the southern counties to mid-November.

Upper Peninsula.-There is one record for Isle Royale: A. Murie saw 12 Ring-necks on October 11, 1929. Migration is apparently light in the Huron Mountains, Marquette County (Christy); S. S. Gregory, Jr. (1929:173) , recorded the species there on October 5 and 6. Particularly heavy flights have occurred recently at Blaney, Schoolcraft County, where Christofferson found the summer residents augmented by transients until there were 75 Ring-necks by September 9 (1937), 500 by September 15 (1936), 2000 by October 1 (1936), with flocks of 1000 to 3000 not unusual in October (3000 on October 15, 1934, and on October 20, 2023). Though nearly all had usually gone by November 1, numbers were occasionally seen until early November (1000 on November 6, 1940, and 500 on November 10, 2023) ; the latest individual noted stayed until November 14 (1938).

Lower Peninsula.-At least moderate numbers (300 on November 1, and 200 on November 8, 1936, according to Trautman) pass through Houghton Lake, Roscommon County, and specimens (U.M.M.Z.) have been collected there from October 14 (1938) to November 9 (1935). Pirnie (notes, 1941) has stated that Ring-necks occur in large flights at Tawas Lake, Iosco County, and Muskegon Lake during early October. In the Gull Lake area, Kalamazoo County, Pirnie (1940, notes) found the species common in fall as well as in spring, "far outnumbering the Lesser Scaup during late September and the first half of October." Individuals were reported in the Gull Lake area by September 11 (1 in 1940), but larger numbers in late September; in 1940 there were 750 by October 20, the same number on November 4, 630 on November 8, 300 on November 13, after which the numbers dropped rapidly to 6 or so birds seen during the last week of November and in December (Pirnie). Fall records for southeastern counties are very few. A female was taken as early as September 5 (1916) near Waterloo, Jackson County (Koelz, 1923: 37), and a few Ring-necks were seen in the Ann Arbor region as late as November 18 (1922, specimen from Pleasant Lake, mounted by N. A. Wood). Near Detroit, a Ring-neck was shot on November 17, 2023 (specimen examined by Swales), and at Hillsdale, the species remained until November 26 in 1894 (Barrows, 1912: 98).

WINTER.-In the Gull Lake (Kalamazoo County) to Battle Creek (Calhoun County) area, the Ring-neck was seen in numbers up to 30 on several recent Christmas counts (Kingsley and others, 1932: 58; Brigham and others, 1941: 120-21) and remained there throughout at least one winter (1931-32-Pirnie and Walkinshaw, notes). In the Ann Arbor region 1 Ring-neck was observed on December 19, 2022 (John L. George and others, 1940: 108), 1 on January 6, 2023 (N. A. Wood and Tinker, 1934: 10), a pair noted almost daily from January 26 to 31, 1929 (R. E. and H. A. Olsen), and 2 individuals on February 13, 2023 (R. E. Olsen and James H. Wood). L. W. Campbell (1940: 47) saw 1 in the Erie marsh, Monroe County, on February 7, 1937.

Mueseum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75
The Birds of Michigan
By: Norman A. Wood
University of Michigan Press
August 28, 2023

Digitized by: Keith F. Saylor
[email protected]

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