The Gadwall (Anas strepera) is a common and widespread dabbling duck in the family Anatidae.
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 gray, 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 grayer above and has less orange on the bill. [Wikipedia]
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 molts annually, following a juvenile molt.
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. [Wikipedia]
In a world where male ducks sport gleaming patches of green, red, or blue, the Gadwall’s understated elegance can make this common duck easy to overlook. Males are intricately patterned with gray, brown, and black; females resemble female Mallards, although with a thinner, darker bill. We don’t tend to think of ducks as pirates, but Gadwall often snatches food from diving ducks as they surface. This widespread, adaptable duck has dramatically increased in numbers in North America since the 1980s. [All About Birds]
Gadwall Facts [All About Birds]
- Female Gadwalls produce an egg a day while they are laying their 7–12-egg clutches. To meet their demand for protein during this stressful time, female Gadwall eats more invertebrates than males during this period—in addition to using reserves of nutrients they’ve stored in their bodies during the winter.
- Gadwalls have increased in numbers since the 1980s, partly because of conservation of wetlands and adjacent uplands in their breeding habitat through the Conservation Reserve Program and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Their habit of nesting on islands within marshes gives them some protection from predators.
- Gadwalls sometimes steal food from American Coots and from other ducks.
- The oldest known Gadwall was a male, and at least 19 years, 6 months old. He was banded in Saskatchewan in 1962 and shot during hunting season in Louisiana in 1981.