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Gadwall

Anas strepera ORDER: ANSERIFORMES FAMILY: ANATIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

In a world where male ducks sport gleaming patches of green, red, or blue, the Gadwall’s understated elegance can make this common duck easy to overlook. Males are intricately patterned with gray, brown, and black; females resemble female Mallards, although with a thinner, darker bill. We don’t tend to think of ducks as pirates, but Gadwall often snatch food from diving ducks as they surface. This widespread, adaptable duck has dramatically increased in numbers in North America since the 1980s.

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Calls

Male Gadwall make short, deep, reedy calls referred to as “burps,” given in steady succession or 2–5 at a time while flying. They also make high whistles. Females quack rather like Mallards, but with a slightly higher pitch and more nasal quality.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

Look for Gadwall on small bodies of water with plenty of aquatic vegetation; Gadwall often feed in slightly deeper water than other dabbling ducks. They associate with many other duck species, and on a quick scan you may miss the males because of their subdued brown appearance—keep an eye out for their black rear ends, white wing-patch (formed by the inner secondary feathers), and intricately patterned, not streaked or spotted, plumage.