The Gadwall is a species of dabbling duck that is commonly found in North America and Eurasia. It is also called the grey duck due to its overall grey-brown plumage coloration. These birds are easily recognizable by their distinctive white speculum feathers, which are bordered by a dark brown stripe.
Gadwalls are medium-sized ducks, with males weighing between 18-24 oz and females weighing 13-18 oz. They have a wingspan of around 30-33 inches and are around 17-20 inches in length. Gadwalls have a slightly longer body compared to other dabbling ducks, which gives them a unique silhouette when in flight.
In terms of habitat, Gadwalls can be found in a variety of wetland habitats, including marshes, ponds, and shallow lakes. During the breeding season, they prefer nesting in areas with tall grass and scattered shrubs near water bodies. While during the winter, they are often found in larger and deeper water bodies like bays and estuaries.
The diet of Gadwalls is composed mostly of aquatic vegetation, as well as seeds, insects, and invertebrates. They are known for their unique feeding behavior where they immerse their head and neck, and then tip their tail end up in the air to reach underwater vegetation.
During the breeding season, male Gadwalls perform elaborate courtship displays, which may include head bobbing and whistling, while simultaneously flapping their wings. The female Gadwall usually lays around 8-12 eggs in the nest, and both parents share the duties of incubation and rearing of the young. The ducklings are precocial, which means they are able to regulate their own body temperature and can follow their parents shortly after hatching.
While Gadwalls are not considered endangered, their populations have been declining due to habitat loss and degradation. Conservation efforts are being made to protect their critical breeding, wintering, and migration habitats to ensure the continued survival of this beautiful waterfowl species.