Some call gadwall “gray ducks,” because of the bird’s overall appearance. But up close, a drake gadwall is a striking bird to behold.
Their breasts and sides are a speckled pattern of gray and brown. Fully plumed, a drake’s head has a chestnut stripe that sets it apart from other ducks.
Gadwall can be in Kansas about any time of the fall and winter. Some arrive with the first green-winged teal and pintails of early autumn. There are usually flocks of gadwall around when cold and ice have driven many other species of dabbling ducks southward.
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Some years, gadwalls are Kansas’ second-most common duck shot by hunters, following mallards. That’s largely because they’re common border to border.
Also like mallards, gadwalls will freely feed on shore or even in fields away from water. Sometimes that’s picking wild weed seeds from the land around marshes, or it could be nibbling on waste grain in harvested fields of corn, milo or soybeans. Gadwall will also dive completely beneath the water to feed, too.
Recently, a hunter in Reno County shot a duck that appears to be gadwall that hybridized with a green-winged teal.