Gadwall (Mareca strepera)

The Gadwall (Mareca strepera) is a dabbling duck from the family of water birds that includes ducks, geese, and swans (Anatidae).

Species name

Dutch name:
English name:
German name:
French name:
Canard chipeau
Scientific name:
Mareca strepera

Scientific classification




Head Buff-brown, slightly chestnut on the crown which in some individuals can have rare purple or green iridescents , some can have a black or white neck ring at the base of the neck or have all four rare color mutations, liberally spotted and barred black. Most upper parts grey, vermiculated black and white. more obviously on breast; belly centre whitish; vent, rump and tail converts black, tail grey-brown. Scapulars elongated, grey with cinnamon margins; tertails pale grey. Speculum black bordered white towards base of wing (outer part black), median coverts chestnut, lesser converts grey, and primaries dark grey; underwing and axillaries whitish. Nonbreeding plumage: resembles female, even having orange bill(though usually less extensive); blackish crown unstreaked and upperparts greyer; Wing stays the same. Bill black, Legs and Feet orange yellow with black webs.

Head and neck pale brown, finely streaked blackish-brown , with darker crown and eye-stripe, paler throat. Most of underparts brown with darker scallops, especially on flanks, paler on vent and undertail-converts; unspotted whitish belly. Upperparts, including tail brown with buff V- shaped or scalloped edgings. Upperwing Speculum black bordered white towards base of wing (outer part black), median coverts little if any chestnut mostly always just black and white markings, lesser converts grey, and primaries dark grey; underwing and axillaries whitish. Bill grayish with orange sides; feet and legs dull yellowish-orange with black webs.

Pale grey head and more streaked below. Male has limited Speculum: Female wing lacks chestnut and may have very little white. Adult plumage by end of first winter. Males well have yellowish orange sides on bills thru first winter, and individuals may take longer to get adult breeding plumage due to stress.

Standard Measurements

Body Length (cm):
The male (drake) of the Gadwall measures approximately 46-56 centimeters. The female measures approximately 46-56 centimeters.
Body Weight (grams):
The male will weight about 920-1060 gram. The female will weight about 815-995 gram.
The weight is notoriously variable and can only be used as indication!

The nests are usually built close to the water and are rarely more than six meters from the shore. The nest is always a simple shell-shaped structure made of material that the female can reach sitting down. The nest is usually padded with Dunenfedern. 

The female Gadwall usually lays from 7-12 cream to pale buff eggs and incubates them for 25-27 days.

Artificial incubating:

The ideal relative humidity for incubating most waterfowl eggs is 55% (ground nesters) and 40% (cavity nesters). The temperature is usually 37.4°C. Set ventilation as recommended by the incubator manufacturer. Eggs must be turned, either automatically or by hand, a minimum of 4 times a day. As the duckling develops there is a loss of water from the egg and the air sac gets bigger. In normal development of an egg with a 25-27 days incubation, the air sac occupies about a third of it three days earlier. Cleanliness is vital and ideally eggs should be moved to a separate hatcher at this point, where the humidity should be increased to 65% and even higher once they have pipped internally.

Bird banding:
Recommended closed leg band ring size for the Gadwall is 10 mm.
The leg band ring can only be applied on a young dabbling duck at around 11-12 days old.

It doesn't matter what leg that you band, but it's good to have a consistent system.
Suggested: Left leg = Female, Right leg = Male
Maintenance food:
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Europese soort

Het is niet verboden om deze vogels te houden die van nature in Nederland voorkomen, op voorwaarde dat deze vogels in gevangenschap zijn geboren; nakweek dus. Deze vogels zijn voorzien van een gesloten pootring. Het is wel verboden om deze vogels te houden die in het wild gevangen zijn. Alleen bepaalde instanties, zoals vogelasiels en vogelhospitalen, zijn bevoegd om jonge en gewonde wilde vogels te houden. Deze bescherming van vogels wordt vormgegeven door schadelijke handelingen te verbieden zoals:het doden, verwonden, vangen, bemachtigen en met het oog daarop opsporen van vogels (art. 9 Flora- en faunawet); het opzettelijk verontrusten van vogels (art. 10 Flora- en faunawet);het beschadigen, vernielen, uithalen, wegnemen en verstoren van nesten, holen of andere voortplantings- of vaste rust- of verblijfplaatsen van vogels (art. 11 Flora- en faunawet);en het zoeken, rapen, uit het nest nemen, beschadigen of vernielen van eieren van vogels (art. 12 Flora- en faunawet).

Photos of the Gadwall