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Scientific Name:

Mareca strepera




Shallow marshes and rivers, riparian areas


Common throughout North America, and are most common west of the Mississippi River


Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


From afar, male gadwalls may look rather plain compared to other male ducks and their bright colors, but upon closer inspection male gadwalls sport an intricate pattern of gray, brown, and black. Both drakes (males) and hens (females) have white patches trimmed in black on their wings which are visible in flight and sometimes at rest. Gadwalls are about the size of mallards but they have a darker, thinner bill. They can weigh up to 2.75 pounds, reach a height of over 22 inches, with a wing-span just over 33 inches. Gadwalls are dabblers, dunking their heads to pick up stems, plants and aquatic vegetation; a female on a nest, and young chicks may eat invertebrates, but the overall diet is vegetarian.

Fast Facts:

  • Gadwalls are some of the first ducks you will see among the migrating ducks, they are one of the first to search for warmer weather.

  • Ahoy matey! Gadwalls are often referred to as pirates as they will steal the treasure (food) from diving ducks or coots.

  • Young gadwalls leave the nest shortly after hatching when their mother leads them down to the water, where they will find their own food.

  • Gadwalls are considered "puddle ducks" due to their preference for shallow waters.

  • The Northern Paiute of Western Nevada use the word puhu to refer to all ducks while izükoda is specific to the gadwall.

  • Locally, gadwalls have been sighted in the early spring in Steamboat Creek and Damonte Ranch marsh canals



Regina Hockett (research & content)

Rachel Carroll (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

March 27, 2024 at 1:48:22 AM

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