Mareca strepera (Linnaeus, 1758) GA GADWA 1820
Family: Anseriformes > Anatidae

Gadwall, Paul Hillion

Slightly smaller than Mallard, Gadwall is a slimmer duck with a white speculum and (useful in flight) a whitish belly.

The Gadwall is a herbivorous surface-feeding duck that favours the more productive margins and shallower water of lakes and other waterbodies. It has been shown to exploit some deeper waterbodies thanks to a habit of stealing plant material collected by other waterbirds, including Coot.

As a breeding species, Gadwall is thought to have become established with the aid of introductions during the 1850s, since when the population has increased. Winter numbers are swelled through the arrival of individuals from both the Continent and Iceland.

Exploring the trends for Gadwall

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Gadwall population is changing.

trends explorer


Gadwall identification is sometimes difficult. The following article may help when identifying Gadwall.

related video

Identifying female dabbling ducks

Mallard. Photograph by John Harding

Ducks are usually easy to identify, but the females can be more challenging. Many of our familiar dabbling ducks have subtly-plumaged brown females which, on first glance, appear similar. This workshop will help you tell them apart with confidence.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Gadwall, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Flight call


Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

Browse training courses

Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



Since wildfowlers released a wing-clipped pair of migrants in Norfolk in 1850, far from their native UK breeding distribution in Scotland, the breeding distribution of Gadwall has expanded and now covers much of lowland Britain, though with many gaps still in the west of the country (Balmer et al. 2013). Range expansion has been rapid since the 1950s. Numbers have recently surpassed the level where a BBS trend can be calculated: further strong increases are indicated and the population may even have redoubled over the latest 10-year period. Winter numbers, which include many continental visitors, have also risen strongly in England, Wales and Scotland, but show recent signs of levelling off in England (since around 2010/11) and have fluctuated in Northern Ireland (WeBS: Frost et al. 2020).

Exploring the trends for Gadwall

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Gadwall population is changing.

trends explorer


The winter distribution of Gadwall is wider than in the breeding season due to dispersal from natal areas and the arrival of migrants from Iceland, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and central Europe. This is particularly evident in southwest England, coastal Wales and Ireland, and Shetland.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


From the former strongholds in East Anglia, Fife and Lough Neagh recorded during the 1968–72 Breeding Atlas, the breeding range of Gadwall has expanded throughout much of the lowlands of central, eastern and northwest England, eastern Scotland, Orkney and the Uists.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Gadwalls are present year-round, recorded on up to 10% of complete lists in winter.

Weekly occurence of Gadwall from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Gadwall ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Gadwall, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Exploring the trends for Gadwall

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Gadwall population is changing.

trends explorer


View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report

Exploring the trends for Gadwall

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Gadwall population is changing.

trends explorer


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Lach-ghlas
Welsh: Hwyaden Lwyd
Catalan: ànec griset
Czech: koprivka obecná
Danish: Knarand
Dutch: Krakeend
Estonian: rääkspart
Finnish: harmaasorsa
French: Canard chipeau
German: Schnatterente
Hungarian: kendermagos réce
Icelandic: Gargönd
Irish: Gadual
Italian: Canapiglia
Latvian: peleka pile
Lithuanian: pilkoji antis
Norwegian: Snadderand
Polish: krakwa
Portuguese: frisada
Slovak: kacica chriplavka
Slovenian: konopnica
Spanish: Ánade friso
Swedish: snatterand
Folkname: Grey Duck


Interpretation and scientific publications about Gadwall from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

There is little good evidence available regarding the drivers of the breeding population increase in this species in the UK.

Further information on causes of change

No further information is available.

Information about conservation actions

Many of the current breeding populations probably descended from released birds, although the species is a native breeder in Scotland and it is unclear whether any of the introduced breeding populations have been joined by wild birds. As an increasing species, no specific conservation actions are currently required for Gadwall, although actions to maintain and create wetland habitats and to provide nesting sites for other wildfowl are also likely to support this species.

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