Gadwall Duck

Gadwall DuckThe Gadwall (Anas strepera) is a common and widespread duck of the family Anatidae.

The Gadwall is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.



The Gadwall is 46-56 cm long with a 78-90 cm wingspan.

The breeding male is a beautifully patterned grey, with a black rear end and a brilliant white speculum (= distinctive wing patch) , obvious in flight or at rest. In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake looks more like the female.

Male Gadwall Duck

The females are light brown, with plumage much like a female Mallard. They can be distinguished from that species by the dark orange-edged bill, smaller size, and lack of an obvious speculum.

Female Gadwall Duck


Gadwall DuckDistribution

The Gadwall breeds in the northern areas of Europe and Asia and central North America. The range of this bird appears to be expanding into eastern North America.

This dabbling duck is strongly migratory and winters further south than its breeding range.

In Great Britain the Gadwall is a scarce breeding bird and winter visitor, though it has increased in recent years. It is likely that its expansion was partly through introduction, mainly to England, and partly colonisation Great Britain, with continental birds staying to breed in Scotland.


Behavior and habitat

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.

Gadwall Ducks (Male and Female) feeding

GadwellIt 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.


Call / Focalization:

This is a fairly quiet species; the male has a hoarse whistling call, and the female has a Mallard-like quack.


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Relevant Resources

Gadwall Ducks

Diet / Feeding:

Gadwall Ducks feed their chicks insects initially. Adults also eat some mollusks and insects during the nesting season.

Ducks generally feed on larvae and pupae often found under rocks, as well as aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and crabs.

Feeding Ducks ...

We all enjoy ducks and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around - and it works! Who doesn't like an easy meal!

However, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird - so it's best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.

Please note that feeding ducks and geese makes them dependent on humans for food, which can result in starvation and possibly death when those feedings stop. If you decide to feed them, please limit the quantity to make sure that they maintain their natural ability to forage for food themselves - providing, of course, that natural food sources are available.

Male Gadwall Duck Feeding

Preening Gadwall Female

Gadwall Duck