Anas strepera

Gadwall drake. ©DUC

The gadwall is noted for its colonial-like nesting on islands in some Prairie wetlands.

Appearance

  • The gadwall, or “grey duck”, is a greyish-brown, mid-sized dabbler.
  • Most readily identified in flight by the white feathers of the speculum adjacent to the body. Forward of the speculum is a chestnut-coloured patch.
  • Females are identified mainly by their white bellies and similar white and black wing patches.
  • Both sexes have steep foreheads, narrow, greyish-black bills and yellow legs.

Breeding

  • Gadwall pair in early winter months, but are last to arrive at breeding grounds.
  • Lay an average of 10 creamy white eggs in a shallow nest.
  • Incubation period is 26 days and female sits on the nest 85 per cent of each day.
  • Ducklings fly between 48 and 52 days.

Habitat: Gadwall breed across mixed prairies and prairie parklands. They are famous for finding island getaways, and prefer alkaline lakes to fresh water.

Range: Breeds from New Mexico to the Yukon and Northwest Territories and from B.C. to Quebec, with increasing sightings in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Winters in the southern U.S., Mexico and coastal estuaries.

Diet: Dabbling on the surface for plants and only occasionally diving for food. Eats leaves, stems and aquatic plants.

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