Gadwall: More than a “Brown Duck”

October 13, 2015

A pair of gadwalls on final approach at Marais Temps Clair Conservation Area in St. Charles County. Notice the coloration difference between the gray/brown drake, which is flying below the brown/buff hen. The female also exhibits the telltale orange lining around a dark bill.

Although often referred to as “brown ducks” by waterfowlers, the gadwall, especially the drake, possesses a quiet beauty with its iridescent, golden covert feathers and finely detailed (think herringbone) breast plumage, as shown in the next image.


Once you have been around gadwalls enough, you can quickly identify them, even in bad light, by their steep forehead profile and unique foraging style as they swim among other dabbling ducks, heads bent forward, bills to the water. Gadwall are known for being on the ornery side, stealing food from divers and other waterfowl. I’m surprised I haven’t observed this behavior given all the time I’ve spent around the species. Maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by an organization in search of gadwall images for an educational display. The request made me take a closer look through my “gadwall folder” than I had in a while and I finally settled on the two images I’ve featured in this edition. Long live “brown ducks,” especially those that are so easy on the eyes.

Thanks for looking,


Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Gallery of Images and Print Information:  Here

4 comments on “Gadwall: More than a “Brown Duck””

  1. That’s a wonderful shot

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