Kingdoms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Anseriformes / Anatidae / Anas / Species
< >  Anas strepera - Gadwall (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
Click Illustration for full-page view Click on photograph for full-screen view Click on photograph for full-screen view Click on photograph for full-screen view Click on photograph for full-screen view Click on photograph for full-screen view Click on photograph for full-screen view Click on photograph for full-screen view Click Photo for full-page view Click Photo for full-page view









Click image to return to Waterfowl Contents FlowchartCONTENTS

Click image for list of Waterfowl Species

Click image for list of Waterfowl Agents
Click image for list of Waterfowl Diseases
Click image for list of Waterfowl Environmental Events / Factors

Return to top of page

General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Gray duck
Schnatterente (German)
Canard chipeau (French)
Chipeau (French)
Anade friso (Spanish)
Pato ruidosa (Spanish)
Keakeend (Dutch)
Snatterand (Swedish)
Chaulelasmus strepera
Anas strepera strepera
-Common gadwall
Anas strepera couesi - Coue's gadwall (Probably extinct)
Chaulelasmus streperus

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


Return to top of page


Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B2, B3, B5, B8, B19, B25, B26, B27

Aviculture references:
B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B97, B128.w1 B128.w2, B129
D1, D8

Other references: B38, B138

(UK Contacts)

(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

Return to top of page

TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques


Return to top of page

Aviculture Information


General Information:
  • Dabbling Ducks are generally hardy, easy to maintain and easy to breed. Shelter may be required by some of the smaller species in winter. They should be provided with cover (including marginal pond cover) and loafing areas as well as water. A pen which is 50% water is suggested. The water may be shallow (i.e. no more than two feet deep is required), and muddy areas for dabbling in are also appreciated. These ducks are generally good in mixed collections, although the smaller and quieter species may be bullied. Territorial disputes between ducks of the same species may be avoided by keeping only one pair of each species in an enclosure, unless the area is very large. For a single pair of ducks a pen are of 50 to 100 square metres, depending on the size of duck, should be provided.
  • A diet based on wheat and pellets is suggested, with maintenance pellets changed to breeders pellets for the breeding season. Bread and greenfood are also appreciated. Grit should always be available, with soluble grit (e.g. oystershell grit) as a calcium source when breeding.
  • Most species are ground nesters and both close ground cover and ground level nest boxes should be provided. Hand-rearing is generally preferred, as these ducks are generally poor parents in captive conditions, particularly in enclosures shared with other waterfowl. These ducks are prone to hybridization, particularly with closely related species, which should be kept apart from one another.

(B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B128.w1, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • Gadwall are generally hardy, but extra feed and some shelter may be required in winter in severe prolonged cold weather. They are suitable for mixed collections. Cover and loafing areas should be provided as well as a water area. Regular provision of grass or other greenfood is appreciated in addition to grain and pellets.
  • These ducks are easily bred. They usually lay April to June, in close ground cover or a ground-level nest box, usually close to water. Ducklings are not difficult to rear; they should be provided with starter crumbs and grass.
  • Hybrids reported with other Anas species, also with Aix sponsa - Wood duck (and Aix galericulata - Mandarin duck, but see information on that species).

(B29, B30, B40, B94, B97, B128.w2, B129).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average ring size: K 10.0mm (D8).

Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

Return to top of page

External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 19-23 inches, 48-58cm (B3); 46-58cm (B1)
Adult weight General Average 850-990g (B1)
Male Average 990g (B3); mean 2.2 lbs. (B8).
Female Average 850g (B3); mean 1.9 lbs. (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

Return to top of page


Adult Bill Male Dark grey
Variations (If present) Female and eclipse male grey with orange sides.
Eyes (Iris) Male Brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Grey with orange sides
Eyes (Iris) Brown.

Return to top of page


Adult Male Orange yellow.
Variations (If present) Paler in female.
Juvenile Similar to female.

Return to top of page


Adult MaleClick Illustration for full-page view Head buff brown spotted with black, darker crown. Breast greyish black with black scallops, upperparts and flanks grey with fine vermiculations, abdomen white, ventral region and tail-coverts black, tail grey-brown.

Wing has primaries dark grey-brown, outer secondaries black, inner secondaries white forming black and white speculum, with chestnut upper wing coverts. Tertials long, pointed, grey.

Variations (If present)Click Illustration for full-page view Female: head grey-brown, with dark eyeline and darker crown and dorsally head and neck, white chin and throat. Lower breast and abdomen white, rest of body basically grey-brown, feathers have paler buff edges on dorsal body, buff centres and edges on sides, flanks, undertail coverts. Wing generally grey with white inner secondaries (speculum)

Eclipse: similar to female but fewer markings and greyer dorsally; wing colours remain.

Juvenile As females but generally darker with heavier streaking on underside.

Return to top of page

Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts sepia brown, underparts including sides of face cream-buff. Brown eyestripe and dot on 'ear'. cream patterning on wing and back.
Bill: Greyish.
Feet: Greyish.

Return to top of page


Reproductive Season

Time of year Begins April/May.
No. of Clutches May lay replacement clutch if first brood lost.

Return to top of page

Nest placement and structure

On the ground in thick vegetation preferably on islands, nest of grass and dry leaves, with down lining.

Return to top of page

Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 8-12 (B1); 8-10 (B8).
Range 5-13 (B1); 5-15 (B8).
Egg Description Cream white to pale pinkish (B3, B8). Size: 55 x 39mm, weight: 43g. (B3)

Return to top of page


24-26 days (B1); 24-28 days (B8).

Return to top of page



Return to top of page


45-50 days (B1); 45-93 days (B8).

Return to top of page

Sexual Maturity

Males One year old.
Females One year old.

Return to top of page


Feeding Behaviour

Adults Head-dip and up-end for aquatic plants also graze on land.
Newly-hatched Surface feeding initially, later sub-surface feeding.

Return to top of page

Parental Behaviour

Nest-building As solitary pairs, or in loose groups on islands.
Incubation By female.
Newly-hatched Tended by female only.


Return to top of page

Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Gregarious except when nesting.
Inter-specific --

Return to top of page

Sexual Behaviour

Mainly seasonal monogamous pair bonds, but some promiscuity and females may choose a different mate to re-clutch if the first brood fails.

Return to top of page

Predation in Wild


Return to top of page

Activity Patterns

Roost on water, or on land where this is safe.
Circadian Crepuscular feeding.

Return to top of page

Natural Diet


Basically vegetarian. Aquatic plants (seeds, leaves, stems, roots), and grasses.

Return to top of page


Animal material more important initially. Surface invertebrates, then aquatic invertebrates and plants. Basically vegetarian by three weeks old.

Return to top of page

Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Widespread over Palearctic and Nearctic.
  • London: In the London Area, "local breeding resident and common winter visitor." In 2000, there were about 2,500 birds present in January and about 1,300 in December. Sites on which tens to hundreds of birds were seen included Rainham Marsh, The Wetland Centre (WWT) at Barnes, various reservoirs etc. In Inner London, smaller numbers are seen (e.g. two birds at Regent's Park in March, up to five during the summer in Buckingham Palace and two pairs breeding). (J322.65.w1)

Northernmost birds migrate to lower latitudes, others sedentary.

Wintering areas include north and east Africa, India, Burma, Thailand, eastern China, Japan, Hawaiian Islands, southern Mexico, Gulf coast, Florida, Greater Antilles and Bahamas.

Occasional and Accidental



Introduced as a breeding bird in Britain in the nineteenth century, but the population has increased as this encouraged wild birds to stay (B38).

Return to top of page


Breeding: fresh and brackish wetlands, preferably shallow and with abundant vegetation.

Occasionally on coasts in winter.

Return to top of page


Intraspecific variation

Anas strepera strepera -Common gadwall
Anas strepera couesi - Coue's gadwall (Probably extinct)

Return to top of page

Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Widespread and locally abundant. Not threatened (B1).

General Legislation
  • This species is listed on Schedule 2 - Part I (Birds which may be killed or taken outside the close season, 1 February to 31 August except where indicated otherwise: Notes on the revised schedules state "NOTE: The close season for ducks and geese when below high water mark is 21 February to 31 August") of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
CITES listing Listing not yet included.
Red-data book listing Listing not yet included.
Threats --

Return to top of page

Captive Populations

Reasonably common in collections (B8).

Return to top of page



Return to top of page