Sunday, October 08, 2006

New Duck Stamps to Feature Ring-necked Duck

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has required waterfowl hunters to purchase and carry duck stamps since 1934. The $15 stamps also serve as a pass into the many refuges of the National Wildlife Refuge system. Money from their sale goes directly into habitat conservation through wetland acquisition. New designs are issued each year; the design is decided at an annual contest of wildlife artists.

On Friday, judges at the contest in Memphis picked a painting of a ring-necked duck as the design for 2007-2008. The winning painter was Richard Clifton from Delaware. His painting beat one of flying wood ducks and another of cinnamon teal. Images of the top entries are supposed to be available on the FWS Duck Stamp page, but are not there yet. In the meantime, here is an image of the winning entry reproduced from the Ducks Unlimited article.

As most birders know, the term "ring-necked duck" is a bit of a misnomer. As with several other species, the feature from which it derives its name is only visible when you examine a dead bird in your hand. (Red-bellied woodpecker is another example of this.) The white neck ring of ring-necked ducks is virtually impossible to spot through binoculars or scopes. It may be better to think of them as "ring-billed ducks" since that feature is far more prominent and diagnostic.

As Nick mentioned in the comments, this post was quoted in today's Express (pdf, p. 32). My argument was not really against the USFWS; it was against whoever named the bird when it was discovered.