Gadwall

Anas strepera
Gadwall specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

While many ducks in North America are adorned with bright blues, greens, or reds, the Gadwall’s coloration is far more subdued. The male is gray overall with a tan head and gray bill, while the female is brownish overall with a dull yellow bill. Besides their medium size (19-23 inches) and nondescript plumage, Gadwalls may be identified in flight by a small white patch on the trailing edge of their wings. Gadwalls are found widely across the Northern Hemisphere. In North America, Gadwalls breed primarily in the northern Great Plains. Smaller breeding areas can be found in the Rocky Mountains, in Alaska, in coastal California, and along the Great Lakes. Many Gadwall populations in the Rockies are non-migratory, but the majority of Gadwalls migrate south for the winter, when they may be found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the southeast, the southern Plains, the Pacific coast from northern California north to Washington, and in southern portions of the Great Lakes. In Eurasia, Gadwalls breed in northern and central Europe, wintering from central Europe south to North Africa. In summer, the Gadwall breeds primarily in wetlands surrounded by grasslands or prairie. In winter, Gadwalls frequent small ponds as well as freshwater and saltwater marshes. Gadwalls feed on aquatic plants, seeds, and invertebrates in the water column. Gadwalls may be seen either on land or in the water, where they may be observed foraging for food. This species may also be observed taking off straight up from the water or undertaking straight, swift flights on migration or between breeding or foraging grounds. Gadwalls are most active during the day.

DC Information

Common migrant and uncommon breeding species, nesting from late April to early July in tidal marshes. Large populations winter in estuaries, ponds, and rivers from late August into March and April. The female has a buffy breast, the male a dark breast.

Specimen Information

This is the record for the bird on the left, a female.
Date: 12/24/1927
Collected By: Wm H Ball/Wm T Brooks
Locality:  Brent's Point, VA
Sex: Female
Catalog ID: 308948

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Anas strepera

Sound from xeno-canto. XC26959 Anas strepera (Gadwall)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC26960 Anas strepera (Gadwall)

Images