Male Gadwall


Scientific name: Anas strepera

Did you know: The Gadwall, a distinct species of dabbling duck, can dive underwater more proficiently than its counterparts, a unique ability among dabbling ducks.

What Do Gadwalls Look Like? (How to Identify Them)

Gadwalls, a species of dabbling duck, are known for their predominantly grey feathers, intricately patterned with fine stripes and speckling upon closer inspection. 

They’re slightly smaller than Mallards, distinguished by a characteristic black rear and a noticeable white wing patch during flight. Adult males exhibit a striking white speculum, particularly visible both in flight and at rest.

Differences Between Male And Female Gadwalls

Gadwalls are known for their subtle yet elegant appearance. 

The male Gadwall, particularly during the breeding season, boasts a patterned grey body, chestnut wings, a distinct black rear, and a striking white speculum. 

Outside of breeding season, males resemble females but retain their wing patterns and are generally greyer with less orange-tint on their bills.

Female Gadwalls, on the other hand, are predominantly light brown, similar to female mallards but distinguishable by their dark orange on the edge of their bills, smaller size, white speculum, and white belly. 

Both sexes undergo two annual moults after a juvenile moult.

What Do Gadwalls Eat?

Gadwalls have a predominantly herbivorous diet, feasting mainly on stems, leaves, and seeds. However, they also occasionally consume molluscs and insects, particularly during the nesting season. 

Interestingly, Gadwalls are known to sometimes steal food from diving birds, showcasing their adaptive feeding strategies.

Where Do Gadwalls Live? (Including Migration Info)

The Gadwall is a migratory bird, breeding in the northern regions of Europe and over the Palearctic, and the central North America. 

In the UK, they are a scarce-breeding bird and a winter visitor, with their population recently increasing. Gadwalls are migratory, wintering south of their breeding range, including coastal Alaska, Central America, and eastern North America.

Bird Calls & Songs (The Unique Voices of Gadwalls)

The Gadwall is a relatively quiet duck, with females emitting a call akin to a female mallard’s quack but higher-pitched. Males produce a grunt-like sound and a whistle, particularly noticeable during courtship displays.

Fun Gadwall Facts (Kid Friendly)

  • Gadwalls can dive underwater more effectively than other kinds of dabbling ducks.
  • They sometimes “steal” food from other diving birds.
  • Male and female Gadwalls have distinct calls: a whistle and a grunt for males, and a high-pitched quack for females.
  • Gadwalls are migratory and travel long distances between their breeding and wintering grounds.
  • They are one of the few duck species known to be monogamous, often pairing with the same mate each season.
  • The oldest recorded Gadwall lived for over 21 years.
  • In flight, Gadwalls show a white wing patch, making them easily recognisable.

Gadwall Images

Male Gadwall Male
Female Gadwall Female
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Gadwall Fledgling Fledgling
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Facts About The Gadwall

Diet: Stems, leaves and seeds.
Bird Family: Ducks, geese and swans
Length: 46-56cm
Wingspan: 84-95 cm
Weight: 650-900g
Scientific Name: Anas strepera

The Gadwall Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December