Anas strepera

Order: Anseriformes
Order Description: Swans, Geese, Ducks
Family: Anatidae
Family Description: Swans, Geese and Ducks

Physical Description:
Size: 18.5-23" (47-58 cm). A very nondescript dabbling duck. Males grayish brown mottled. Some brown on head and black undertail coverts. Females mottled brown. The key to identification of this species is its white speculumClick word for definition, unique to the Gadwall.

Similar Species- Almost all female ducks look similar to the Gadwall; however, no other duck has a white speculum.

Male has a series of low rrebb-rrebb notes and various whistles. Females give a soft quack.

Breeds from southern Alaska and southwestern and south-central Canada, south to southern Wisconsin, southern Kansas, northern New Mexico, central California, and locally on parts of East Coast. Winters from southern Alaska to central California, across portions of middle U.S. to central Florida and Gulf Coast, and south into south-central Mexico.

Found on lakes, ponds, rivers, and marshes. Prefers freshwater, but may be found on any open water during migrationClick word for definition and winter. Moderate- to large-sized wetlands of permanent or semi-permanent nature, expanses of open water with submerged vegetation, and open, undisturbed shorelines are important molting habitats. In Idaho, occupies marshes, lakes, and reservoirs -- tends to avoid mountainous areas.

Feeds on leaves, stems, and tubers of aquatic plants. Also eats algae and seeds of sedges and grasses. Occasionally grazes in pastures and grain fields; may feed on acorns. Eats some small fishes and aquatic invertebrates, which comprise about half spring and summer diet; eats green portions of aquatic plants in non-nesting season. Juveniles initially eat equal amounts of animal and plant food; plant food begins to dominate after 2 wk.

Feeds generally in water 15- 66 cm deep. Builds concealed nest on ground. One study found that few hundred nests/ha are possible on islands lacking mammalian predators. An Idaho study suggested that mammalian and avian predators may significantly affect nest success in some wildlife management areas. Highest breeding densities occur in northern Great Plains and intermountain valleys of western United States. Molting males may form groups of hundreds or thousands in midsummer

Breeding usually begins in mid-April in southern range, early June in north. Female incubatesClick word for definition about 9-11 eggs for 4 wk. Female tends young, which fly at 49-63 days. Species breeds later than most other ducks. Relatively high percentage of yearlingsClick word for definition do not breed.

Element Code: ABNJB10160
Status: Game species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5
National Rank: N5B,N5N

Important State References:
Gazda, R.J. 1994. Duck productivity and nest predation in southeastern Idaho. M.S. Thesis, Univ. of Montana, Missoula. 61pp.

Photo by Greg Kearns, ©2002.
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.