The Gadwall Duck 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.
Male – The male Gadwall duck has a buff brown head with a darker crown, grey-black scalloped breast, narrow black beak, dark-brown eyes, patterned-grey mantle and flanks, brown back, black rear-end, belly and vent are whitish, wings are mostly grey with a white speculum, and legs and feet are orange-yellow.
Female – The female is mostly light-brown with darker scalloping on the body, whitish belly, whitish throat and chin, and has a distinctive white speculum, and dark orange-edged beak.
Eclipse – The male in eclipse plumage looks similar to the female but the back is greyer with less markings, and the wing pattern remains. There is also less orange on the beak.
Size: – Typical Adult is 18-22 inches.
Food: – Aquatic plants, leaves, stems, grain, molluscs, and aquatic insects.
Habitat: – Wetlands, fresh water lakes, pools, wet grassland, and marshes in Europe into Asia and central North America. Winters further south in the Mediterranean, north Africa, India, China, Mexico, Cuba, and Jamaica.
Breeding Season: – From May to June.
Eggs: – 8 to 12 (pale-buff color).
Notes: – The Gadwall duck is a dabbling duck with an extremely large range from North America, Europe to Asia.
The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.