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Steamer duck

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The steamer ducks are a genus (Tachyeres) of ducks in the family Anatidae. All of the four species occur at the southern cone of South America in Chile and Argentina, and all except the flying steamer duck are flightless; even this one species capable of flight rarely takes to the air.[2] The genus name Tachyeres, "having fast oars" or "fast rower", comes from Ancient Greek ταχυ- "fast" + ἐρέσσω "I row (as with oars)".[3] The common name "steamer ducks" arose because, when swimming fast, they flap their wings into the water as well as using their feet, creating an effect like a paddle steamer.[4] They can be aggressive and are capable of chasing off predators like petrels. Bloody battles of steamer ducks with each other over territory disputes are observed in nature. They even kill waterbirds that are several times their size.[5]

Steamer ducks
Tachyeres brachypterus.jpg
Falkland steamer duck, Tachyeres brachypterus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: Tadorninae
Genus: Tachyeres
Owen, 1875

Tachyeres patachonicus
Tachyeres pteneres
Tachyeres brachypterus
Tachyeres leucocephalus

  • Micropterus Lesson 1828 non Lacépède 1802
  • Microa Strand 1943[1]


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 in a distinct clade of aberrant South American dabbling ducks, which also includes the Brazilian, the crested, and the bronze-winged ducks.[6]

Extant speciesEdit

There are four species:[2]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
  Tachyeres patachonicus Flying steamer duck southern Chile and Argentina, Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands.
  Tachyeres pteneres Fuegian steamer duck southern Chile and Chiloé to Tierra del Fuego
  Tachyeres leucocephalus Chubut steamer duck Argentina
  Tachyeres brachypterus Falkland steamer duck the Falkland Islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean.

The Chubut steamer duck was only described in 1981.[2]


Based on the Taxonomy in Flux from John Boyd's website.[7]


T. brachypterus (Latham 1790) (Falkland steamer duck)

T. pteneres (Forster 1844) (Fuegian steamer duck)

T. patachonicus (King 1831) (Flying steamer duck)

T. leucocephalus Humphrey & Thompson 1981 (Chubut steamer duck)


  1. ^ "Part 7- Vertebrates". Collection of genus-group names in a systematic arrangement. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Livezey, Bradley C.; Humphrey, Philip Strong (1992). Taxonomy and Identification of Steamer-Ducks (Anatidae: Tachyeres). Monograph of the Museum of Natural History, the University of Kansas. No. 8. Lawrence, Kansas: Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas. ISBN 0893380423.
  3. ^ Kear, J., ed. (2005). Ducks, Geese and Swans. I. Oxford University Press. p. 378. ISBN 0198610084.
  4. ^ Moynihan, M. (April 1958). "Notes on the Behavior of the Flying Steamer Duck" (PDF). The Auk. 75 (2): 183–202. JSTOR 4081889.
  5. ^ "8 Birds That Can't Fly".
  6. ^ Johnson, Kevin P.; Sorenson, Michael D. (1999). "Phylogeny and biogeography of dabbling ducks (genus Anas): a comparison of molecular and morphological evidence" (PDF). Auk. 116 (3): 792–805. doi:10.2307/4089339.
  7. ^ Boyd, John (2007). "Anatini" (PDF). Taxonomy in Flux. Retrieved 30 August 2016.

External linksEdit