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Male ringnecks have a black breast and back. The glossy purple head appears black. The sides are gray (sometimes appearing white), and the chestnut neck-ring for which ringnecks are named is seldom visible. On the water, drakes show a vertical white crescent in front of the wing. Hens are brown with a white eye-ring and an indistinct white area near the bill. The most notable characteristics on both sexes are the dark, white-ringed bill and peaked triangular head-shape. The speculum is bluish-gray, and the belly is white.
Flying ringnecks can be distinguished from scaups by the black back and gray wing-stripe. They fly swiftly in compact wedges and often land without circling.
Ring-Necked Duck Key Field Marks
Small diving duck with a broad gray (not white) wing stripe and a dark bill crossed by a white ring.