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The gadwall (Mareca strepera) is a common dabbling duck belonging to the family Anatidae. The gadwall is distributed in Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Europe, Central and North America and North Africa.

Taxonomy of Gadwall

  • Scientific Name: Mareca strepera (del Hoyo and Collar 2014)
  • Common Name: Gadwall
  • French: Canard chipeau; German: Schnatterente; Spanish: Ánade friso;
  • Other names: Anas strepera Linnaeus, 1758;
  • Family: Anatidae › Anseriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Mareca strepera (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Anas. DNA studies have shown that it is closely related to the falcated duck (Mareca falcata). There is one extant subspecies, M. s. strepera (Linnaeus, 1758) and one extinct species, †M. s. couesi (Streets, 1876).

Indian birds - Gadwall - Mareca strepera
Indian birds - Gadwall - Mareca strepera


The gadwall duck species is a medium sized bird and the males are larger than females. The male gadwall measures, 45 to 60 cm in length and weighs 650 to 1,000 grams. The female weighs 550 to 850 grams. The wingspan is 85 to 95 cm. The breeding male gadwall is patterned grey with chestnut wings. The speculum feathers are brilliant white, visible during flight as well as resting. The rear is black. The gadwall females are patterned brown. The female vocal call is a quack. The drake sounds a grunt 'nheck' and a whistle.


The gadwall duck species inhabit open wetlands, grasslands, marshes, eutrophic lakes with abundant emergent vegetation and slow flowing waters. The gadwall species are rarely seen in the coastal waters.

Feeding habits

The gadwall duck species feed on aquatic vegetation, weeds, seeds, shoots, roots, tubers and leaves. They have been observed to feed the ducklings with insects. The nesting birds often seen feeding on insects, crustaceans and molluscs.


The breeding season of gadwall species is during the April to May. The nests are constructed on the ground far from water.


The gadwall subspecies M. s. strepera breeds in North America, Northern Europe and Northern Asia. They winter in Central America, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia and Indian Subcontinent. The subspecies †M. s. couesi, Coues' gadwall, was discovered on Teraina, Kiribati, a coral atoll in the Pacific Ocean, in 1874, but it has not been seen since and is now extinct (del Hoyo et al. 1992).

Movement Patterns

The breeding gadwall populations in the northern ranges are highly migratory, moving southwards for wintering. The wintering southward movements take place from July and August. The return migration occurs from March to April. The gadwall populations in the temperate and sub temperate regions are mostly sedentary.

Status and conservation

The global population of gadwall species is estimated to number 3,200,000 to 3,800,000 individuals (2006). The breeding population in North America has seen a significant increase. The main threats in conservation are pollution of habitats and degradation and human activity in the wetlands.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these gadwall species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Mareca strepera
Species:M. strepera
Binomial name:Mareca strepera
Distribution:Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Europe and Central and North America;
Feeding habits:aquatic plants, seeds, weeds, roots, tubers and leaves;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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