Steamer Ducks

Two Magellanic Flightless Steamer Ducks Tachyeres pteneres in Cologne Zoo.


Falkland Steamer Duck, Tachyeres brachypterusTachyeres (Steamer Ducks) is a genus of ducks in the bird family Anatidae. All of the four species occur in South America, and all except T. patachonicus are flightless; even this one species capable of flight rarely takes to the air.

The genus name Tachyeres, "having fast oars" or "fast rower", comes from Ancient Greek ταχυ- "fast" + ἐρέσσω "I row (as with oars)". 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 (Johnson and Sorenson, 1999) 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.


There are four species:


References

  • Johnson, Kevin P. and Sorenson, Michael D. (1999): Phylogeny and biogeography of dabbling ducks (genus Anas): a comparison of molecular and morphological evidence. Auk 116(3): 792–805. PDF fulltext

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Relevant Resources




Diet / Feeding:

Flying Steamer Duck, Tachyeres patachonicusDucks generally feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and crabs.

Feeding Ducks ...

We all enjoy ducks and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around - and it works! Who doesn't like an easy meal!

However, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird - so it's best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.

Please note that feeding ducks and geese makes them dependent on humans for food, which can result in starvation and possibly death when those feedings stop. If you decide to feed them, please limit the quantity to make sure that they maintain their natural ability to forage for food themselves - providing, of course, that natural food sources are available.



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