Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Andreas Trepte/Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.5)

Gadwall

Gadwall
Anas strepera
Duck-like Birds | Family: Ducks and Geese, Anatidae

An estimated 7% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

This species has the widest range of any duck, breeding almost throughout the North Temperate Zone and is abundant in winter in southern marshes. Often considered drab, the male Gadwall is a handsome duck clad in soft pastel grays and tans. This species is one of the dabbling ducks; it feeds by tipping forward so that the tail sticks up as it reaches for plants on the bottom.

Description

18-21" (46-53 cm). Male is a medium-sized grayish duck with white patch on hind edge of wing, black rump, and sandy brown head. Female mottled brown, with white patch on hind edge of wing.

Voice

Utters duck-like quack; also chatters and whistles.

Nesting

9-11 cream-white eggs in a down-lined nest of grass, usually hidden near water but sometimes in upland fields.

Habitat

Freshwater marshes, ponds, and rivers; locally in salt marshes.

Range/Migration

Breeds from southern Alaska, British Columbia, and Minnesota south to California and western Texas; occasionally in East. Winters in much of United States. Also in Old World.