Some ducks are categorized as Dabbling Ducks. Dabbling Ducks are characterized by their ability to take flight directly from the water’s surface, and their unusual method of feeding. A Dabbling Duck feeds by upending its body in the water so that its head is under the water and its rear end sticks up into the air. This behavior allows the duck to feed on submerged vegetation and aquatic insects.

I observed these Gadwalls “dabbling” in our local Beaver pond. The male in these photographs is developing his breeding plumage. Evidently mating season is approaching.

A male Gadwall in Carrollton, Texas.  This male is beginning to develop his breeding coloration.
A male Gadwall in Carrollton, Texas. This male is beginning to develop his breeding coloration.
This male Gadwall is searching for food beneath the water's surface.
This male Gadwall is searching for food beneath the water’s surface.
A male (left) and female (right) Gadwall feeding under the surface of the water.
A male (left) and female (right) Gadwall feeding under the surface of the water.
The male Gadwall continues to dabble, while the female swims away.
The male Gadwall continues to dabble, while the female swims away.
A male and female Gadwall in Carrollton, Texas.
A male and female Gadwall in Carrollton, Texas.
This female is engaged in another unusual behavior, with her wings arched over her back and her bill skimming the water's surface.
This female is engaged in another unusual behavior, with her wings arched over her back and her bill skimming the water’s surface.

Observation Details

County Denton
City Carrollton
Date Jan 21, 2012
Time of Day Midmorning
Temperature Cold (less than 50°F/10°C)
Weather Clear
Habitat Water-Creek
Type of Behavior Feeding
Gender Mixed
Maturity Adult
Observer Chris Jackson
Main Article Gadwall Observation Location