Gadwall is a bird of great complexity and depth. Its gentle coos and whistles drift across the reeds, a symphony of sounds that speaks to its quiet nature and reserved demeanor.

Watching the Gadwall in its element is like witnessing a master artist at work, as it glides effortlessly through the water with its elegant form and precise movements. Truly, this unassuming bird is a work of art, a testament to the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

Bird CharacteristicDescription
Common NameGadwall
Scientific NameMareca strepera
Colour (s)Grey, brown, black, and white
Average Length46-56 cm
Average Height51-63 cm
Weight635-1200 g
Type of BirdWetlands
Origin country (ies)Northern Hemisphere
Month it comes to IndiaOctober to March
Location in IndiaWetlands and marshes
IUCN statusLeast Concern


The Gadwall is a medium-sized dabbling duck, measuring about 46-56 cm (18-22 inches) in length and weighing between 550 to 1200 grams (1.2 to 2.6 pounds). Its wingspan can reach up to 78 cm (31 inches).

The plumage of the male Gadwall is a striking mix of browns, grays, and blacks, with a distinctive black patch near its tail and a chestnut-colored head. The female, on the other hand, has a more muted appearance, with a mottled brown and gray body and a pale orange beak.

In flight, the Gadwall’s wings are broad and rounded, allowing for swift and agile movements in the air. They can reach a top speed of up to 56 km/h (35 mph) and have a flight range of approximately 1,000 km (620 miles).

Gadwalls are known for their relatively quiet and gentle nature, emitting soft coos and whistles instead of the loud quacks often associated with ducks. They typically inhabit wetlands, ponds, and marshes, where they feed on aquatic plants, insects, and small aquatic animals.

Habitat and Food

Gadwalls are found in a wide range of wetland habitats, including marshes, ponds, lakes, and shallow coastal bays. They prefer areas with ample vegetation and open water, where they can easily dive and feed on a variety of aquatic plants and animals.

The diet of Gadwalls is primarily herbivorous, consisting of a range of aquatic vegetation such as pondweeds, wigeon grass, and wild celery. They also consume a variety of invertebrates such as snails, insects, and crustaceans. Gadwalls are known to be highly adaptable and will adjust their diet according to the availability of food in their environment.

During the breeding season, Gadwalls prefer to nest in dense vegetation near water sources. They construct their nests from a combination of grasses, twigs, and other plant materials, often hidden among tall reeds or cattails. Gadwalls are monogamous and will typically form pair bonds that last throughout the breeding season.


Gadwalls are migratory birds that breed in the northern parts of Europe and Asia, including regions such as Siberia, Scandinavia, and Russia. During the winter months, they migrate southwards to warmer regions in search of suitable feeding and resting grounds.

In India, Gadwalls typically arrive during the winter months, between October and February. They can be found in various states and regions across the country, including wetlands, lakes, and reservoirs in areas such as Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh.

The purpose of their migration to India is primarily for wintering and feeding. As the temperatures drop in their breeding grounds in Europe and Asia, Gadwalls migrate to India in search of food and shelter. They feed on a variety of aquatic plants and invertebrates found in wetland habitats across the country, allowing them to build up their reserves for the return journey back north in the spring.

In addition to feeding, Gadwalls also use their time in India for resting and roosting. Wetland habitats in India provide suitable areas for Gadwalls to rest and conserve energy, allowing them to sustain their long migration journeys.

Gadwalls typically leave India in the months of February and March, returning to their breeding grounds in Europe and Asia to begin the breeding season. Overall, their migration to India is a critical part of their annual life cycle, providing vital resources and resting grounds for these remarkable birds.

IUCN Status

The Gadwall has been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and has been categorized as a species of “Least Concern”. This means that the species is not currently considered to be at significant risk of extinction and its population is relatively stable.

However, like many other waterfowl species, Gadwalls are still threatened by habitat loss and degradation, pollution, hunting, and climate change. Wetland habitats, which are critical for the survival of Gadwalls, are increasingly under threat due to human activities such as urbanization, agriculture, and dam construction.

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