Flying Steamerduck Tachyeres patachonicus
Chilean name: Quetru volador
Flying Steamer-duck, Chiloe, Chile, December 2005 - click for larger image Chile
December 2005

The Flying Steamerduck is distributed in southern Chile, the extreme south of Argentina, Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands. It is the only steamerduck that is found on inland water-bodies as well as at the coast.

Flying Steamer-duck, Chiloe, Chile, December 2005 - click for larger image Steamerducks are so named because they run across the water using their feet for propulsion and their wings as a sort of splashing support as can be seen in photos 1 to 4. This reminded early sailors of a paddle steamer.

There is a short note on the "Mechanics of Steaming in Steamer-ducks" by Livezey & Humphrey in Auk, April 1983.

Flying Steamer-duck, Chiloe, Chile, December 2005 - click for larger image It is the only steamerduck found on fresh water which was the case in photo 6 of a female at Torres del Paine. All other photos were taken round the coast of Chiloe where there is the possibility of confusion with Flightless Steamerduck T. pteneres.

Flying Steamerduck is smaller with longer, functional wings. The male has a pale to whitish head and orange bill and legs. The female has a dark grey head and a darker bill which is greenish with a yellowish base.

Flying Steamer-duck, Chiloe, Chile, December 2005 - click for larger image Another distinguishing feature of the Flying Steamerduck is that it usually shows a long, up-curled tail when swimming. This was noticeable on the bird in photo 6 but I must admit I didn't notice this feature on any of the other birds on this page.
Flying Steamer-duck, Chiloe, Chile, December 2005 - click for larger image Steamerducks are very aggressive in defending territories and male combat is possibly also a part of sexual display. Photos 3 and 4 show a growth at the bend of the wing which is, in fact, a modified spur used in fights.
Female Flying Steamer-duck, Torres del Paine, Chile, December 2005 - click for larger image
Previous Page Back to Index Next Page

If you do not see a menu on the left, you may have arrived at this page from another site. Please click Home to get to my main page. Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites