Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Do not change the name of Ring-necked Duck to Ring-billed Duck

Last summer--wow, almost a year now--there was a proposal to rename the Ring-necked Duck to "Ring-billed Duck." Though at first it might seem a reasonable change, all members of the AOU Checklist committee voted "no," keeping the name. Their reasoning is here.

Ring-necked Duck
Ring-necked Duck, March 7, 2018, Kit Carson Park, Escondido, California.
To view a photo of mine showing the copper neck ring, and a description of how this bird was named, see my post: An eponymous Ring-necked Duck.

As I explain in that post, the bird was first found in a meat market in London. The copper-colored neck ring really stood out, as otherwise it looked quite similar to the very common local Tufted Duck. The Tufted Duck also has a very similar bill to Ring-necked Duck, so naming either one "Ring-billed Duck" would be very confusing.

Northern Pintail (front), Ring-necked Duck female (rear left), and Tufted Duck male (rear right)

The above photo from January 30, 2013 in Yamhill County, Oregon shows two "Ring-billed Ducks" behind the Northern Pintail--Ring-necked Duck on the left and Tufted Duck on the right.

So, when looking at flocks of diving ducks next winter, be sure to look for the copper neck ring or the tuft that separate the males only of the two species of "Ring-billed Ducks."

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