Gadwell Elegance


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Beauty is far more than feather deep. For proof of that, I present to you this exquisite gadwell hen, proudly moving her ducklings from “there” to “somewhere else.” Perhaps easily overlooked in the world of over-the-top colorful ducks, the understated gadwell presents a beauty, grace and sheer elegance seldom matched by other ducks.

As I made this photograph on a June day in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, I couldn’t take my eye off of this procession. I was totally captivated by how serene and graceful, not to mention completely silently, this family glided through the water. I looked up, and there they were, coming toward me. I watched them from behind a bit of tall grass–either they never saw more or the hen knew I was no threat. They continued their glide, moving through the shallow water and on around a bend, and sadly out of my sight. The whole time, though, I just couldn’t help thinking about how wonderful she looked, and how much joy the ducklings brought to me. I hope that as you gaze at this photograph, some of these emotions come through to you as well.

And as I write this, I am reminded yet again of the elegance of the gadwells.

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