Fun Torrent Duck Facts For Kids

Arpitha Rajendra
Jan 03, 2023 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Interesting torrent duck facts here on Kidadl
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.9 Min

The torrent duck (Merganetta armata) is a duck of the Anatidae family. The Merganetta genus consists of only this species.

They are a part of the subfamily of shelduck Tadorninae but were previously assigned to perching ducks. The reason behind this was that the torrent duck is paraphyletic. There are many subspecies like Chilean torrent duck (Merganetta armata armata) and Colombian torrent duck (Merganetta armata colombiana).

The taxonomy of this subspecies can sometimes get confusing. The population of the Chilean torrent duck is stable.

Males and females can be easily distinguished. However, the basic colors of this species are black, grey, white, and orange. Many species of this family have been hunted for recreation and food, and many others domesticated for agriculture.

William Elford Leach, an English zoologist, first introduced the family name Anatidae in 1820. The earliest ancestors of these ducks have been assumed to be related to dinosaurs (this was disproven).

If you enjoyed reading these facts, then please do check out grey heron facts and blue-winged teal facts.

Torrent Duck Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a torrent duck?

The torrent duck (Merganetta armata) is a resident breeder species of the Andes in South America. They are of the family Anatidae and subfamily Tadonimae. These ducks are strong divers and swimmers and fly only for short distances.

When they need to move from one river to another, they fly several meters above the ground. They use their strong large feet and nod their heads when swimming.

Their long claws allow them to cling to slippery rocks. When they are frightened, they swim with their body almost submerged to escape predators. These birds groom the feathers frequently to maintain the feather's waterproof quality.

What class of animal does a torrent duck belong to?

The torrent duck (Merganetta armata) belongs to the class Aves of animals.

How many torrent ducks are there in the world?

The population of Merganetta armata (torrent duck) around the world is 13,000-23,000.

Where does a torrent duck live?

Merganetta armata (torrent duck) is native species of the Santa Marta mountains of Andes and Colombia. They are the resident breeders of South America. They can be found in a range across Chile, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, and Bolivia.

What is a torrent duck's habitat?

They occupy tropical areas and freshwater river range. These birds occupy a range of habitats with fast-flowing mountain rivers and streams,  mountain slopes, small waterside caves,  and other sheltered spots.

Who do torrent ducks live with?

This species lives in groups or pairs.

How long does a torrent duck live?

There is no record of the lifespan of these birds in the wild. In captivity, a female torrent duck lived up to 18 years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season takes place once a year. The female torrent duck is attracted to the patterned plumage of male torrent ducks.

They breed between February and October. Male torrent duck courts the female with distinct postures.

They also kick up water, flap their wings, and continuously bow to the female torrent. The female torrent and male torrent duck vocally communicate with each other during courtship. Other displays include snapping and swimming around each other and raising out of the river.

The cycle varies with each subspecies. The eggs are laid in February by the Colombian subspecies (M. armata colombiana), in April by Ecuadorian subspecies (M. a. leucogenis), and the remaining southern subspecies lay eggs in September through early October.

The torrent duck nest are built in hollow trees or abandoned caves and are well hidden. The nest is placed around 9-60 ft (3-19 m) above the river.

The female lays around 2-5 eggs. The incubation period lasts long enough for the young birds to develop swimming abilities and get accustomed to the harsh waters.

Both males and females take turns caring for their offspring. Males do not participate in incubation, however, females only provide incubation to the eggs if the male is present in the nest.

Males help around protection and caring. Right after hatching, the ducklings take on the rough currents of the mountain rivers with the parents helping them. Below the nest, in turbulent waters, the female calls the duckling.

The young ones dive down into the water below the nest. They are not harmed by vegetation or rocks as these small birds are covered in down, which cushions their fall.

The parents stay beside them until they learn how to move through the water. By any chance, these small birds get swept by the currents, the parents chase them to save them.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of torrent duck is Least Concern, hence, they are not an endangered species. Sometimes, torrent duck hunting takes place for their meat.

Due to this, the population of this bird in Isla Grande has vanished. This bird is sensitive to natural habitat destruction, pollution, the introduction of trouts like brown trout or rainbow trout, and pesticide contamination. These birds positively impact the environment by feeding on the population of invertebrate larvae.

Torrent Duck Fun Facts

What do torrent ducks look like?

These ducks have a sleek aerodynamic body, long claws, strong legs, and strong tails which are all adapted to their natural territories. This species is sexually dimorphic.

The male torrent duck has a striking black and white head and neck and contains black stripes across their eyes extending down their backs and a red bill. They have dark and iridescent green wings with spurs for fighting and dark underparts.

The female torrent plumage is black, the underparts are cinnamon red, feathers have grey lines, and a grey head and neck.

The Chilean torrent duck or the southern subspecies M. a. armata male has a chestnut belly, black underparts, and grey back. The Colombian torrent duck or northern subspecies M. a, columbiana male is slightly smaller and has gray-brown streaked underpants.

Peruvian torrent ducks or M. a. leucogenis male are medium-sized with varying plumage. The underneath of the turneri morph is completely black. There is a teardrop mark only on the male Chilean torrent duck. The Peruvian torrent duck is sometimes known to have four subspecies: garleppi, leucogenis, turneri, and berlepschi.

*Please note that this is an image of a blue duck, not a torrent duck. If you have an image of a torrent duck, please let us know at

How cute are they?

These ducks are small with varying colors. So, they are considered cute.

How do they communicate?

The sounds or calls made by females differ from the males. The male produces a single tone of high pitched whistle that can hear over turbulent waters. The female's call is a deep booming call similar to quacking or squabble. The parents and young ones communicate using warning signals. They also produce whistles while landing or taking off.

How big is a torrent duck?

The size range of the torrent ducks is 17-18 in (43-46 cm) in length.

How fast can a torrent duck fly?

The exact flight speed of torrent ducks is unknown. They only fly for short distances. The average speed of a duck is between 40-60 mph (64-97 kph).

How much does a torrent duck weigh?

Torrent ducks weigh around 0.70-1.05 lb (320-480 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to the male and female of this species.

What would you call a baby torrent duck?

There is no specific name given to a baby torrent duck. They are usually referred to as hatchlings or ducklings.

What do they eat?

They dive in fast-flowing rivers to catch their prey. The diet of torrent ducks is mainly aquatic invertebrates, crustaceans, mayfly larvae, mayfly larvae, small fish, aquatic insects like water beetle, and insect larvae.

They use many techniques to catch prey, like kicking the prey up with their feet and sometimes waiting underneath a waterfall. They also scavenge in shallow areas under the rocks. Young ones also have the same diet.

Are they poisonous?

No, they are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they would not make a good pet. They thrive in their natural habitat, with a fast-flowing river.

Did you know...

The population of torrent ducks is stable in Chile compared to the ones in northern regions.

Merganetta armata armata is recorded to inhabit a larger range than other subspecies.

How do you differentiate between a torrent duck and a diving duck?

The diving ducks are members of the same family as torrents. However, the diving duck is named so due to their ability to feed by diving. Torrents are named so due to their natural habitats. Most members of diving ducks are native species to the Northern hemisphere. Diving ducks are black, white or brown in color.

How did the torrent duck get its name?

Torrent translates to heavy flow or fast flowing. So, torrent ducks are given their name because of their habitats.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our pelican facts and Amazon parrot facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable torrent duck coloring page.

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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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