Medium-sized dabbling duck 18” to 21” long. Drakes are tannish gray with a light brown head and black rump, while hens have a speckled, “tweedy” brown plumage. Both sexes have yellow legs and a bright white patch on the trailing edge of the wing.
Marshes, mainly along the Eastern Shore.
Gadwalls breed across a wide swath from southern Alaska to western Canada and the northern American Midwest, wintering in many places in the U.S. including Chesapeake Bay.
Quacking, whistling, squirrel-like chatter. Listen to a sample (Requires RealPlayer)
Although wintering gadwalls are not particularly abundant on the Bay, this species once was the most widely distributed waterfowl in the world (a distinction now held by mallards). For Bay birders, the gadwall’s elegantly muted plumage and relative rarity make a gadwall sighting a pleasant surprise.
The decoy pictured is from the collection of the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art and was photographed by Middleton Evans. Waterfowl sounds are courtesy of the Macaulay Lab of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.