Fuegian Steamer Duck (Tachyeres pteneres)

Fuegian Steamer Duck

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Tachyeres pteneres | [authority] Forster, 1844 | [UK] Fuegian Steamer Duck | [FR] Brassemer cendre | [DE] Magellan-Dampfschiffente | [ES] Quetro Austral (Arg), Patovapor del Magallanes | [NL] Reuzenbooteend


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Tachyeres pteneres 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

The Flightless Steamer-Duck is a large, stocky duck of southern South America. Found in coastal waters, the species has extremely short wings that leave a large patch of the rear flank exposed. Steamer-ducks have a peculiar habit of flapping their wings and running along the water’s surface when alarmed, reminiscent of steamboats. The Flightless Steamer-Duck can be identified by its large size, whitish gray head, bright orange bill, gray body and wings, and white wing patches.

Listen to the sound of Fuegian Steamer Duck

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/ANSERIFORMES/Anatidae/sounds/Fuegian Steamer Duck.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Bernabe Lopez-Lanus

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 74 cm size max.: 84 cm
incubation min.: 30 days incubation max.: 40 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 8  


South America : South. The Flightless Steamer-duck is distributed from Chiloe southwards to Tierra del Fuego.


The Flightless Steamerduck frequents rocky coastlines and can be found several miles offshore.


Breeding starts in September or October on the shoreline in sheltered bays or channels with nests well hidden amonst vegetation. 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

It dives in shallow waters among kelp beds, with a diet of aquatic molluscs, crutaceans and sometimes fish. Foraging occurs mostly during the high tide.

Video Fuegian Steamer Duck


copyright: Christophe Gouraud


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). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, 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.
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.
Fuegian Steamer Duck status Least Concern



Distribution map

Fuegian Steamer Duck distribution range map

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