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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Kari Pihlaviita. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Gadwall

Anas strepera

  • Family: Waterfowl – Anatidae
  • Appearance: Somewhat similar to Mallard, but lacks blue wing speculum, and instead has white patches on the inner parts of its wing specula. Males have mottled brownish head and neck, fairly uniformly coloured greyish bodies and black colouring around their tail vents. Females closely resemble female Mallard.
  • Size: Length 46–56 cm, wingspan 78–90 cm, weight 850–1000 g.
  • Nest: In dense vegetation, made of dry plant stems, leaves and down.
  • Breeding: 8–12 eggs laid in May, incubated only by female for 27–28 days. Ducklings leave the nest very soon after hatching and quickly learn to find food for themselves, though they stay together as a brood close to their mother. They then learn to fly at the age of 7–8 weeks.
  • Distribution: A newcomer in Finland. Nests in small numbers south from Oulu by nutrient-rich sea bays and lakes, and on marine islands. Finnish breeding population estimated at 500–1000 pairs.
  • Migration: Nocturnal. Leaves Finland between August and October, returning April–May. Winters along the coasts of Western Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa.
  • Diet: Mainly plants.
  • Calls: Males make a harsh-sounding “croak” call in spring. Females’ calls similar to quacking of Mallard.

Gadwalls are dabbling ducks, slightly smaller and lighter in build than Mallards. They are rare in Finland. Even in their breeding plumage (October–early June) males’ colouring is modest. They have greyish-brown heads and necks, uniformly greyish bodies and black tail ends. They have white markings on their wing bars, and a chestnut brown patch on their central wing coverts. Their beaks are dark grey. In May–June males shed their breeding plumage and start to look more like females, though they are slightly darker and lack the small dark spots typically found on females’ bills.

Female and juvenile Gadwalls closely resemble Mallards, though they have more whitish underbellies and have white patches (sometimes small or absent) on their wings (Mallards have blue wing markings). Their bills have uniformly wide orange-yellow coloured edges. Gadwalls have orange-yellow legs with darker webs. Their irises are brown.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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