A Garganey is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Garganeys. We have also put together a list of fun Garganey t-shirts, Garganey bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
The Garganey (Spatula Querduedla) is a small Eurasian long-distance migrating duck. It is most likely to be spotted during spring in North America in marshy ponds favored Blue-winged Teals.
Description and Identification
Garganeys are small ducks that are roughly 16 – 17 inches in length, with a wingspan of
approximately 23 – 27 inches. Adult males have a brown head and breast, with the rest of
their plumage being mostly gray with loose scapular feathers. Their eyes are marked by a
white crescent just above them, while their faces are reddish-brown with dark crowns. Their
pale blue secondary feathers are visible only in flight. Females look similar to Common Teals
and Blue-winged Teals but can be distinguished from the aforementioned birds on the basis
of their stronger face markings. They have pale eyebrows, dark eye lines, and pale lore
spots (the region between the eyes and the nostrils) that are bordered by a second dark line.
Garganey Color Pattern
The male Garganey’s supercilium is broadly white with a molted brown head, breast, and stern. This contrasts with its grayish flanks and white bell. On the other hand, the female Garganey is a much paler and more patterned version of the Teal. Her crown is a more distinct dark brown and her forewing is blue-gray.
Garganeys are small, slender-necked ducks that are slightly built. They have flat crown and a straight bill.
The relative size for both sexes is:
- Length: 37-41cm
- Weight: 280g- 330g
- Wingspan: 59cm – 67cm
Garganey males produce crackling sounds, burbs, and harsh rattles. The female’s calling sounds are more of a weak quack.
Their primary diet during the breeding seasons is mainly composed of aquatic invertebrates
like crustaceans, mollusks, worms, and insects and their larvae. They usually find their prey
by dabbling, feeding upside down in the water, or grazing inland. They even occasionally
dive down to reach for food below the surface of the water. During the winters, their diet
shifts to a largely plant-based one. They maintain granivorous diets, feeding on the seeds of
a variety of aquatic plants, grasses, shoots, and sedges.
Garganeys collect their food while swimming with their head submerged into the water. Sometimes it will snatch any small insects flying just above the surface of the water. Its diet mostly consists of animal materials like aquatic macro-invertebrates including midges and beetles and plant materials including grasses and pondweeds.
These ducks breed throughout the flooded fields and swamplands of Europe and Asia. They
prefer breeding in grasslands that are adjacent to shallow marshes and steppe lakes, with
wintering birds traveling to similar habitats during migrations. They are also found in ditches,
small ponds, and irrigation pools. Due to their requirement of wetlands, human activities
such as land reclamation and drainage have been replacing their habitats with reservoirs
and dams. Climate change leading to drier fields has also made way for concern as their
populations have begun to decline by 30% every three generations.
Distinguished as migratory birds, Garganey ducks seasonally change their habitat throughout the West Palearctic areas. It mainly breeds in Mediterranean and temperate climatic zones. The Garganey duck prefers areas that are narrow and well compartmented with shallow standing freshwater bodies that merge into flood lands, grasslands, or other wetlands.
Outside of their breeding season, they inhabit more exposed ponds, irrigation pools, and ditches.
Range and Migration
Garganeys are small dabbling ducks that are found widespread across Eurasia. They breed
in much of Europe and mainly across the Palearctic zone – a biogeographic realm that
stretches from the Arctic across Eurasia to North Africa and the foot of the Himalayans.
They are strictly migratory birds, with large flocks traveling to southern Africa, eastern India,
Bangladesh, and Australasia during the winters. This extensive range proves that they are
sturdy long-distance migrants, as the vagrants of these birds have been known to turn up
anywhere in North America occasionally. At the western Aleutian Islands, Alaska, in
particular, rare migrants are known to arrive in spring and sometimes fall.
Garganey Life Cycle
The female lays 8 to 9 creamy yellow to light olive eggs and incubates them for an incubation period that lasts about 21 to 23 days. Their nests are mostly found on the ground and in hidden tall grass. Once hatched, the young duckling takes flight after 35 to 40 days.
Garganey pairs are monogamous and are not colonial. Nesting sites are likely chosen by
both members of the pair, usually on the ground amongst thick vegetation, rush tussocks,
and grass. These nests require a nearby source of water and are usually within 20m – 50m
of one. The nests themselves are usually just a shallow depression on the ground that is
lined with grasses and leaves, with a majority of the protection coming from the location of
the nest rather than the nest itself.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Garganeys
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Garganeys are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
If you love the Garganey you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Garganey Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Garganey is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Garganey. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Garganeys
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Garganeys
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.