My name is Kiel and I have chosen to research the Gadwall. Throughtout much of the northwest, lakes are a common sight. Since lakes are so common, it’s only natural that ducks are also a normal part of life. I have spent many years on our local lakes and watch these birds every summer. The Gadwall is one of many species that lives in our back yards, but is one of the more ignored.
The Gadwall (Anas strepera), is a very common duck. Unlike its cousin, the mallard, it is drab when first examined. Up close, you can see complex patterns on all feathers as well as a unique white patch on the back of the wing.
Ponds and marshes are where Gadwalls prefer to live. It also likes deeper water than other ducks. The deeper water provides protection from predators. When feeding, this duck returns to the shallows where there is more plant life near the surface.
One of the most interesting facts about the Gadwall, is that the males perform a complex mating dance as part of their natural reproduction cycle. After a female has selected a male, the pair remains together until part way through the nesting season. Gadwalls reach sexual maturity in their first winter.
Gadwall nests are usually concealed in tall reeds or grass, and are mainly configured of the same vegetation. On average, between eight and eleven eggs are laid. The male leaves its partner partway through the laying process, and the female incubates the eggs for about a month.
The Gadwall is a surface feeder, mainly eating the leaves and stems of aquatic plants. It has also been known to eat macroinvertebrates and small fish, though this is usually observed in younger specimens. Its population has increased in recent years, mainly due to the spread of eruasion milfoil, a mainstay in its diet.
Since the Gadwall eats an invasive species, they can be considered good for the environment. As of yet, global warming or climate change has yet to affect this species.
The call of a Gadwall is raspy and not a clear “quack”. Click HERE for a link to an example.
Natural predators of this species include; foxes, coyotes, and predatory birds. In recent years humans and their pets, cats and dogs, have been added to this list.