Key facts

Scientific name: Anas querquedula
Status: Breeding summer visitor

Breeding birds: 14-93 pairs

Conservation status: Amber
Length: 37 – 41 cm
Wingspan: 60 – 64 cm
Weight: 250 – 450 g


In breeding plumage male garganeys have dark brown backs with pale fringes on the feathers. The tail is grey-brown. On the upperwings there is a green speculum with white borders above and below. The upperwing coverts are pale slate-grey and the elongated scapulars have grey, dark green, black, and white stripes.

The breast is brown black bars and the flanks are vermiculated grey. The belly is white and the undertail is white with dark brown bars and spots.

They have a dark brown forehead and crown with a broad white band along the side of the head. The foreneck is rust-coloured with white flecks. They have a dark grey bill, brown eyes and grey legs and webbed feet.

Female garganeys are duller than males with a striped facial pattern. The bill is pale grey and the legs and feet are olive-grey.

Males in eclipse plumage are similar to the females although they are less dull and show most of the breeding plumage pattern.

Juveniles are similar to the female with fine streaks and spots on the underparts.


Garganeys breed in April and May. They nest alone or in loose groups in thick vegetation and are strongly territorial. The female builds the nest which is a shallow depression in the ground lined with leaves, grass, and feathers.

Garganeys lay 8-11 buff or cream-coloured eggs which are incubated by the female alone for 21-23 days while being guarded by the male. The chicks have dark brown and pale yellow down. They fledge at about 35-40 days after hatching and are sexually mature at one year.


Garganeys eat mainly plant matter including seeds, pondweeds, grass, roots, and tubers. They will also eat aquatic invertebrates such as worms, crustaceans, molluscs, and insects, as well as small fish and amphibians.


Where to see them

Garganeys visit the UK from April to October. They are found in central and southern England in shallow wetlands, flooded meadows and ditches, and areas with lots of aquatic vegetation.


Marco Dragonetti/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Although the male garganey has a distinctive mating call, female garganeys are almost silent and can just about manage a feeble quack.

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