Facts & Profile
Gadwall Anas strepera

The gadwall (Mareca strepera) is a common and widespread dabbling duck in the family Anatidae.

Description & appearance

The gadwall is 46–56 cm (18–22 in) long with a 78–90 cm (31–35 in) wingspan.The male is slightly larger than the female, weighing on average 990 g (35 oz) against her 850 g (30 oz). The breeding male is patterned grey, with a black rear end, light chestnut wings, and a brilliant white speculum, obvious in flight or at rest. In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake looks more like the female, but retains the male wing pattern, and is usually greyer above and has less orange on the bill.

The female is light brown, with plumage much like a female mallard. It can be distinguished from that species by the dark orange-edged bill, smaller size, the white speculum, and white belly. Both sexes go through two moults annually, following a juvenile moult.

Voice, singing & call

The gadwall is a quieter duck, except during its courtship display. Females give a call similar to the quack of a female mallard but higher-pitched, transcribed as gag-ag-ag-ag. Males give a grunt, transcribed as nheck, and a whistle. This is a fairly quiet species; the male has a hoarse whistling call, and the female has a mallard-like quack.

Distribution & habitat

The gadwall breeds in the northern areas of Europe and across the Palearctic, and central North America. In North America, its breeding range lies along the Saint Lawrence River, through the Great Lakes, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Dakotas, south to Kansas, west to California, and along coastal Pacific Canada and southern coastal Alaska.The range of this bird appears to be expanding into eastern North America. This dabbling duck is strongly migratory, and winters farther south than its breeding range, from coastal Alaska, south into Central America, and east into Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, Virginia, and then south all the way into Central America.

In Great Britain, the gadwall is a scarce-breeding bird and winter visitor, though its population has increased in recent years. It is likely that its expansion was partly through introduction, mainly to England, and partly through colonization to Great Britain, with continental birds staying to breed in Scotland. It has been reported in the River Avon in Hampshire and Wiltshire. In Ireland a small breeding population has recently become established, centred on Wexford in the south and Lough Neagh in the north.

Hunting & food

The gadwall is a bird of open wetlands, such as prairie or steppe lakes, wet grassland or marshes with dense fringing vegetation, and usually feeds by dabbling for plant food with head submerged.

Breeding & mating

It nests on the ground, often some distance from water. It is not as gregarious as some dabbling ducks outside the breeding season and tends to form only small flocks. The young birds are fed insects at first; adults also eat some molluscs and insects during the nesting season. The gadwall is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Important Note:

This text is based on the article Gadwall from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported (short version). A list of the authors is available on Wikipedia.