Gadwall

Mareca strepera
Range Map

Gadwalls favor shallow ponds and marshy areas around the globe. They range across most of North America. Breeding mostly in the Great Plains, though they are permanent residents in several western states. Some spend winters throughout Mexico. These birds range not only in the Americas, they breed in the midlatitudes of Europe and Asia while wintering in southern Asia and northern Africa.

The male Gadwall may not be as “showy” as some other ducks, but their appearance is clean and economical. Population increases have resulted from the past quarter century’s attention to restoring wetlands and nesting habitat.

Researchers recognise two subspecies of Gadwall:

  • M. s. strepera breeds in much of the world between 40°N and 60°N, and migrates south in the winter.
  • M. s. couesi lives on a few islands in the central Pacific Ocean.

Though not always clearly visible, I try to look for a whitish patch at the back of their wings near their body. It is usually more prominent in the drakes than the hens. I’ve met these ducks in California, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

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