Sunday, April 17, 2011


A pair of gadwall ducks, Anas strepera, near Brooklyn Bridge Park on the East River.

Gadwalls are delicate little ducks, streamlined and only about 20 inches long. The male's black butt and the female's white wing patch are noticeable from a distance.  Close up, the male is quite fancy with a black bill, plumy back feathers, and a pretty patch of chestnut brown on the "shoulder."

A resting male gadwall shows off patches of color. 

The Brooklyn gadwalls rarely come close to shore and they swim out even further when I approach. They are usually busy nibbling at the pilings. Their favorite meal is plants, but they also eat aquatic insects and the occasional small fish.

The male gadwall, left, and the female, right, swim among pilings where they nibble aquatic plants. 

It seems fitting that a swim in the East River should have a special urban twist. Broken reflections of city skyscrapers often cast weird patterns on the water surface where the ducks swim unconcernedly. Click on the picture below to enlarge it and you will see what I mean. Psychedelic!


  1. Hi all,

    The Gadwall is a common and widespread duck of the family Anatidae. This species was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 under its current scientific name. The male is slightly larger than the female and the female is light brown. Thanks a lot!

    Wildlife Photography