US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version

January 1990


Published in Diana H. Cross and Paul Vohs (eds.) Waterfowl Management Handbook. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1990. Online at


The gadwall is widely distributed throughout the western two-thirds of North America. Although its primary breeding habitat is in the drought-prone and degraded waterfowl habitats of the northern Great Plains, its continental population has remained relatively stable while those of most other dabbling ducks have declined. Some unique life history traits may in part be responsible for the resilience of gadwall populations. These unique attributes, which are important for gadwall management, are the subject of this leaflet. Readers interested in general references on gadwall biology and natural history are referred to Bellrose (1980) or Palmer (1976).