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North American Shoveler
Gadwall Duck

[ Philippine Duck ] [ Black Duck ] [ Gadwall ]
[ N. A. Shoveler ]



Gadwalls are medium-sized, streamlined ducks with mottled brown-and-black body plumage and light brown heads. Females and males in eclipse plumage may look superficially similar to Mallards. Both sexes have a black and white wing-patch, or speculum, that is distinctive in flight. Males also have chestnut on the forewing. Males in breeding plumage have gray and black striations on their bodies and heads, and black rumps. Females, immatures, and eclipse-plumaged males have thin, black bills with orange on the sides, while males in breeding plumage have solid black bills.


A late nester, the female Gadwall picks the nest site, which is usually near water and surrounded by dense weeds or grass. The nest itself is on the ground, made of grasses and weeds and lined with down. The female lays 8 to 10 eggs, which she incubates for 24 to 27 days. Shortly after hatching, the young leave the nest and can swim and find their own food. The female remains with the young until they fledge at about ten weeks of age.



General Comments

The Gadwall was traditionally a duck of the Midwestern prairies and was an uncommon sight in Washington. The conversion of the coniferous landscape to a more open one has helped create habitats more inviting to Gadwalls, as has the spread of Eurasian Water Milfoil into urban lakes. The first Gadwall nests in Washington were reported in the mid-1960s. Range-wide, the Gadwall population fluctuates greatly, but it continues to expand its range and does not appear to be in decline overall.



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Gadwall Drake

Gadwall Hen

Gadwall Pair

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