Gadwall

The Gadwall is sometimes referred to as the "gray duck" because of its seemingly unremarkable overall gray-brown color. However, closer inspection of male Gadwall reveals beautiful vermiculation (wavy black stripes) on their feathers, chestnut and black portions on their wings and a distinctive black rump. Females are a mottled brown and can be easily mistaken for female mallards. Both sexes have a very noticeable white wing patch in flight that can sometimes be visible while resting.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Marcea strepera
CLASSIFICATION
Bird
LIFE SPAN
5-10 Years
SIZE
18-22.5 ” | 1-2.75 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • State Protected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Game
GAME TYPE
Waterfowl
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

Gadwall will use marshes, small ponds and lakes for breeding habitats. They like water in more open areas that are not bordered by dense forests or other vegetation other than grasses and shrubs. In Nevada, Gadwall are found throughout the state during the breeding season, non-breeding season, and in the Northwest part of the state, they can be found year-round.

  • Agricultural Lands
  • Lakes and reservoirs
  • Marsh

Threats

  • Drought
  • Habitat Loss
  • Water Diversion

Natural History

Gadwall form bonded pairs and the female chooses the nest site and builds the nest while the male stands guard. Females lay between seven and thirteen eggs in their nest and do the majority of incubation as well. The ducklings will hatch with downy feathers and will be mobile within several hours of hatching.
These ducks are diurnal for most of the year but chose to migrate at night to avoid predation and conserve energy by flying when it’s cooler. They primarily eat plants and aquatic invertebrates including seeds, leaves and stems, aquatic insects, crustaceans, fish, and sometimes amphibians. Gadwall are dabbling ducks so they stay above water when feeding.

Fun Facts

Females eat more invertebrates and other aquatic animals during breeding season to keep up with the high energy demand of laying eggs.