Ring-necked duck

Ring-necked duck---Although male ring-necked ducks superficially resemble their counterparts the greater and lesser scaup, their peaked, angular head profile, distinctive white bill markings, and uniformly dark upper wings distinguish them. The “ring-neck” name is derived from a faint brownish ring around the base of the neck, which is visible only upon close inspection. Ring-necked ducks are silent except in courtship display when a low whistling note is uttered. In Wisconsin, ring-necked ducks are important because they are the highest harvested breeding diving duck in the state. Continentally, ring-necked ducks have been increasing in population size and remain above their long-term population average.

Blake Richard, a Park Falls resident who is attending Northland College in Ashland, majoring in Natural Resources, had the honor of one of his duck photos selected for the highly competitive 2021 Ducks Unlimited calendar. Blake has had a long interest in wildlife photography and duck hunting. I asked him about his hobbies, and this is what he shared with me.

“I love photography because it is, as I consider it, the ability to remember a moment like it happened yesterday. I know I have many photos where I can remember the exact spot it was taken and relive the scenario in my head. Getting a good shot is one of the most rewarding things, because of how challenging it can be. Wildlife does not always cooperate, so when they do, it is truly magnificent. Same goes for waterfowl hunting. Ducks can be extremely smart sometimes. My most significant memories while waterfowl hunting are spending time with my friends and family and watching my black lab Fife bring back ducks for us. Fife is no longer with us, so all my photos of her fill my heart with joy every time I look at them.”

With more than one million supporters like Blake and 57,000 volunteers, Ducks Unlimited is backed by a passionate and dedicated conservation community. With the help of these supporters, nearly 15 million acres have been conserved through a science-based approach across North America.

The Mission of Ducks Unlimited is to, “Conserve, restore, and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl.” These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people.

What are wetlands and why are they important? According to Ducks Unlimited, wetlands include swamps, marshes, and bogs. They provide numerous beneficial services to people, fish, and wildlife. Some of these services include protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters, and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods. In addition, wetlands filter drinking water, refill groundwater, help prevent flooding, protect coasts from hurricanes, and provide recreational opportunities for birders, hunters, anglers, and boaters.

Wow, if you are an outdoors person, who wouldn’t want to be part of an organization like that? Check out their website (www.ducks.org) to find out more, become a member, or order the 2021 calendar (click on ‘shop’) with Blake’s award-winning ring-necked duck gracing the month of May along with many other spectacular duck pictures for the other months.

The private Nature Education Center in Fifield operated by Tom and Mary Lou Nicholls is open seasonally by appointment only.

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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