Fun Steamer Duck Facts For Kids

Ritwik Bhuyan
Nov 17, 2022 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Steamer duck facts such as only one of the four species of steamer ducks can fly

Steamer ducks of the order Anseriformes are the name given to a genus of ducks of the family Anatidae. There are four species in this genus, namely, Magellanic flightless steamer duck (Tachyeres pteneres), flying steamer duck (Tachyeres patachonicus), Falkland steamer duck (Tachyeres brachypterus), and Chubut steamer duck (Tachyeres leucocephalus).

All species except the flying steamer duck are known to be flightless. Even after being able to fly, the flying steamer duck still does not take to the air much.

All species in the family of four are very aggressive and can easily scare off predators. Steamer ducks are fighters and the bird species can even kill waterbirds much bigger than their size.

The ducks in this genus feed mostly on crustaceans and mollusks and sometimes on some marine invertebrates. All species of these ducks almost look the same with brown head and neck feathers with white stripes.

There are also brown-gray gradient body feathers. While the flying steamer duck (Tachyeres patachonicus) is the smallest among the four, the Magellanic flightless steamer duck is the largest with a maximum weight of around 15.43 lb (7 kg).

The history behind the name of steamer ducks comes from the ability of the species of birds to flap their wings into the water and use their feet while swimming. This creates an effect in the water similar to what paddle steamers create.

For more relatable content, check out these falconet facts and saker falcon fun facts for kids.

Steamer Duck Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a steamer duck?

Steamer ducks are actually a genus of ducks found in South America.

What class of animal does a steamer duck belong to?

Steamer ducks fall under the order Anseriformes in the class of Aves of the kingdom of Animalia.

How many steamer ducks are there in the world?

The population of the bird species is not known. Most of the species of the ducks are found abundant in the mentioned habitats. There is just one exception in the genus with the Chubut steamer duck where the population has declined quite a bit in the last few years.

There are around 3700 pairs of Chubut steamer ducks living now.

Where does a steamer duck live?

All the species of steamer ducks found in the world occur in South America. It is said that the birds are found in the southern cone of the continent in Chile and Argentina.

The flying steamer ducks are found in Chile, Argentina, Tierra del Fuego, and the Falkland Islands. These birds are widely distributed if compared to other birds of the genus. This is possible probably due to the ability of flight in this species.

The Magellanic flightless steamer duck is found in southern Chile, Chiloé, and Tierra del Fuego.

The Chubut steamer duck is seen in Golfo San Jorge in southern Chubut and northern Santa Cruz Provinces.

The Falkland steamer duck (Tachyeres brachypterus) has a range of distribution in the Falkland Islands of the southern Atlantic ocean.

What is a steamer duck's habitat?

The flying steamer duck is known to reside in specific aquatic habitats and the bird can also be found in both freshwater and marine environments.

The Magellanic flightless steamer duck is found on rocky coasts and coastal islands. During the breeding season, the bird moves to inland sheltered bays and lakes.

The Chubut steamer duck is found in only a stretch of a small coast, and this is the reason the bird is affected by habitat loss.

The Falkland steamer duck (Tachyeres brachypterus) is found in the mentioned island habitat in the Atlantic ocean.

Who do steamer ducks live with?

Steamer ducks are very aggressive and territorial. They are usually presumed to live alone. They are so aggressive that the birds can easily fend off predators. Steamer duck fight with each other too over territorial disputes and the battles are usually not pretty.

Flying steamer ducks spend most of their lives in pairs.

How long does a steamer duck live?

The lifespan of the bird species is not known.

Usually, ducks have an average lifespan of five to ten years.

How do they reproduce?

All species of these birds have different breeding systems.

The Chubut steamer duck breed from October to February. The nests are made of sticks, grass, and litter from high tide.

Egg clutch is usually five to six. These nests are usually found in a stretch from the Chubut River mouth to the Chubut and Santa Cruz province boundary. These birds are known to be ground-nesting and often nest in shrub areas which help them protect the young from aerial predators.

The Magellanic steamer ducks are known to make their nests near water in dense, shrubby vegetation. The nests are also made sometimes in abandoned penguin nest burrows. The breeding season is from September to December when the birds lay a clutch of 4-11 eggs.

The incubation time is 28-40 days and after hatching, the young birds fledge in 120-130 days. Sexual maturity is reached in two to three years. Adult male species are very aggressive during the breeding season.

The flying steamer duck is monogamous and lives in pairs. The mating ritual is conducted by the male and female both by dipping their bill in water at a fast rate.

The eggs and young are eaten by many predators like foxes, gulls, caracaras, and petrels.

What is their conservation status?

Incapable of flight, the birds except the flying steamer duck suffers from the risk of habitat loss greatly as they have a very limited range of habitat. The Chubut steamer ducks are the most affected by habitat loss and predation and population decrease has categorized them as Vulnerable now.

All other three species of the genus are categorized as Least Concern by IUCN Red List.

Steamer ducks, both flightless and flying ones, suffer from nest predation by many different species. This includes both avian species and mammalian species like the Fuegian culpeo foxes, American minks, crested caracaras, and chimango caracaras.  

Steamer Duck Fun Facts

What do steamer ducks look like?

The plumage of all the steamer duck species is similar to each other. They have a brown head, brown neck feathers with white stripes. This stripe stretches from the eyes to the nape of their necks.

The body has brown-gray gradient feathers. The flying steamer duck underbellies are white and the bird has orange feet. The female bill is orange with a black tip and is usually smaller than the male's darker gray bill with yellow coloration.

The male Magellanic steamer duck size is greater than the female. Their wings are too short for the species making them unable to fly. Males have a blue-gray neck and head and a pale-colored forehead and crown. The white ring is similar to all species.

A reddish-brown throat is present. The tail is gray and the underbelly is white. Females have brown coloring on the feathers and are darker than males. Juveniles are similar to females, only duller.

Chubut steamer duck has a white head with an orange/yellow colored bill. The feet and webs are orange-colored with black claws. The body is gray with white-colored bellies. Female bills are greenish/yellow-colored. Juveniles resemble females.

The flying steamer duck have a gray plumage with a brown head and neck feathers

How cute are they?

They are considered quite cute, but due to their aggressive nature, it is not possible to go near them.

How do they communicate?

They communicate by sound and by tactile methods.

How big is a steamer duck?

The Magellanic flightless steamer duck is the biggest of the genus and has a length of25.6-33 in (65-83.8 cm).

How fast can a steamer duck fly?

Only the flying steamer duck can fly and still, it rarely flies. The speed is unknown.

How much does a steamer duck weigh?

The weight of the biggest bird in the genus called the Magellanic flightless steamer duck ranges between 7.71-15.43 lb (3.5-7 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Males and females of the species are not given different names.

What would you call a baby steamer duck?

A baby steamer duck is known as young.

What do they eat?

Steamer ducks feed primarily on crustaceans, small fish, mollusks, and insect larvae.

The Fuegian steamer duck eats and feeds young amphipods, isopods, insect larvae, and small snails.

Are they dangerous?

They are known to be aggressive.

Would they make a good pet?

They are not considered pets and only thrive in wild habitats.

Did you know...

The male species are very aggressive. There have been cases when a male was mistakenly placed with a group of other waterfowls. The male was raging and the male steamer duck killed all the other birds in the area with its powerful, spurred wings.

Steamers use their wings as paddles. Only the flying steamer duck uses the wings for flight. The others cannot fly due to smaller wings.

Different types of steamer duck

There are four species of steamer duck - flying steamer duck, Magellanic flightless steamer duck, Chubut steamer duck, and Falkland steamer duck.

Why can't steamer ducks fly?

Steamer duck species except the flying steamer duck cannot fly due to excessive size and high wing loadings.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these sea eagle facts and crested duck facts for kids.

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

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Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

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Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

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Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

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