Did I Shoot a Gadwall duck or a female Mallard duck?
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On an overcast fall morning, you sit huddled in your duck blinds, decoys scattered in front of you. The Eastern sky begins to brighten and the West wind is at your back. The ducks appear low on the horizon, silouttes against the brighter sky, closing in on your decoys. The "Take 'em" call is sounded. The ducks flare at the rising guns as they begin to fire and birds begin to fall from the sky. The dogs rush out and retrieve the birds off the dirt and stubble of the field. Identifying the species of duck killed is now as much a necessity as it is a curiosity. Overshooting your limit of some species can have severe consequences so you check the ducks as the dogs bring them back. But is this a Gadwall or a female Mallard? In imperfect lighting, covered in mud and dog slobber, it begs the questions, what kind of duck did I shoot?
In a simple glance, a mature Gadwall duck and a young drake Mallard or female Mallard duck can appear similar in size and colorations, but here are a few visual clues to help you tell them apart. Side by side, a Mallard is a large duck and a Gadwall is a medium sized duck and by the time hunting season os upon us, even an immature Mallard will be at least slightly larger than a Gadwall. Dirty and matted up the colors of the birds will seem similar. Both Gadwalls and Mallards will have orange colored feet, with gadwall feet looking a little more yellow. Spread the wings and check the secondary colors of the out wings. Mallards will have the distinctive white-tipped blue patch while gadwalls will have a patch of white-tipped brown feathers.Top of Page