What are GREY Ducks called?

Answered by Tom Adger

Grey ducks are often called hen gadwalls due to their resemblance to female gadwall ducks. This nickname is commonly used in North America, where they are primarily found. The name “grey duck” is also used to differentiate them from other duck species with similar characteristics.

These ducks are not particularly flashy in appearance. Both the drake (male) and hen (female) have a predominantly grey-brown plumage, which helps them blend into their natural habitat. This plain coloration allows them to camouflage themselves and avoid detection from potential predators.

The hen gadwall, or grey duck, is known for its unique wing speculum. This refers to a patch of iridescent feathers on the secondary flight feathers of the wing, which becomes visible when the bird is in flight. The speculum appears as a small, white or silvery-blue patch bordered by black feathers. This distinguishing feature sets the grey duck apart from other North American puddle ducks and helps birdwatchers identify them in the wild.

It is interesting to note that while the drake gadwall has a similar overall appearance to the hen, it displays more contrasting colors. The drake has a grey-brown body with a black rump, a black patch on the breast, and a distinctive black patch on the tail. These features make the drake slightly more eye-catching than the hen, but still relatively plain compared to other waterfowl species.

In my personal experience as a bird enthusiast, I have observed grey ducks in various wetland habitats. Their unassuming appearance and the subtle beauty of their wing speculum always catch my attention. Although they may not be as vibrant as other ducks, their unique characteristics make them interesting subjects to study and appreciate.

To summarize, grey ducks, also known as hen gadwalls, are named for their resemblance to female gadwall ducks. They have a predominantly grey-brown plumage and are relatively plain in appearance compared to other duck species. However, the presence of a wing speculum, a patch of iridescent feathers on the wing, distinguishes them in flight. Despite their modest appearance, grey ducks are fascinating creatures to observe and admire in their natural habitats.