Flying Steamer Duck (Tachyeres patachonicus)

Flying Steamer Duck

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Tachyeres patachonicus | [authority] King, 1828 | [UK] Flying Steamer Duck | [FR] Brassemer de Patagonie | [DE] Langflugel-Dampfschiffente | [ES] Quetro Volador (Arg, Cl) | [NL] Vliegende Booteend


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Tachyeres patachonicus SA s


The steamer ducks are a genus (Tachyeres) of ducks in the family Anatidae. All of the four species occur in South America, and all except the Flying Steamer Duck are flightless; even this one species capable of flight rarely takes to the air. The common name “steamer ducks” derives because, when swimming fast, they flap their wings into the water as well as using their feet, creating an effect like a paddle steamer. They are usually placed in the shelduck subfamily Tadorninae. However, mtDNA sequence analyses of the cytochrome b and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 genes indicate that Tachyeres rather belongs into a distinct clade of aberrant South American dabbling ducks, which also includes the Brazilian, the Crested, and the Bronze-winged Ducks.

Physical charateristics

Though difficult to separate at a distance from other steamer-ducks, the species can be identified by longer projection of primaries beyond the tertials, smaller size than the flightless species, and the ability to fly. The male has a pale to whitish head and orange bill and legs. The female has a dark grey head and a darker bill which is greenish with a yellowish base.

Listen to the sound of Flying Steamer Duck

[audio: Steamer Duck.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 66 cm size max.: 71 cm
incubation min.: 30 days incubation max.: 40 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 9  


South America : South. This species is found in south Chile, extreme southern Argentina, Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)


This species occurs both inland on freshwater lakes, pools and rivers, and, during the non-breeding season, along rocky coastlines.


This species breed with on islets, hidden in vegetation. Usually close to water, the nest is lined thickly with down. Thes are Solitary build. Clutch is 5-9 eggs which are incubated by the female for about 35 days with the male guarding. Newly-hatched Tended by both parents and driven from territory once independent. This species is known for its highly agressive behavior, which might be part of its display.

Feeding habits

They are usually found in pairs, diving for shellfish and other marine animals along the immediate shoreline.

Video Flying Steamer Duck


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be small, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Steamer-ducks are so named because they run across the water using their feet for propulsion and their wings as a sort of splashing support
Flying Steamer Duck status Least Concern


Essentially sedentary with some local movements and dispersal along coasts in winter.

Distribution map

Flying Steamer Duck distribution range map

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