Description: Gadwall are subtly good-looking ducks. The male gadwall is mostly gray and brown with a white belly and a black rump. The chest and upper back has a scaled appearance; the speculum is white bordered with black and reddish-brown feathers. The hen is mostly mottled brown-and-tan with a light orange bill with a gray center line. The hen’s speculum is also white, though it is not as pronounced as the drake’s. Both drakes and hens have yellow-orange legs and feet. Drakes are slightly larger than hens. Average size: 11-22 inches. Average weight: 1 ½-2 ½ pounds.
Science: Gadwall breed in the prairie pothole region, but also can be found in the plains states, the Rocky Mountain states, Alaska, and the eastern Great Lakes area. The birds favor small prairie wetlands. The migration begins in September; they winter largely in the south and in the Atlantic and Pacific coastal states. They can be found in salt and freshwater marshes and estuaries. The birds generally fly at night in small flocks, often joining with other puddle ducks. Gadwall are not very vocal, the hen call resembles the mallard hen call, while drakes use short calls and low whistles. Their population is increasing due to their high rate of nesting success.
Hunting: Gadwall are often taken incidentally by mallard hunters. They respond to mallard calls and decoys. Their eating quality is excellent.