See also Steamer for the Webster w/u.

The Steamer Duck is a species of bird native to Southern America and its neighbouring islands. There are four varieties;

  • Flying Steamer Duck - Tachyeres patachonicus
  • Faulkland / Flightless Steamer Duck - Tachyeres brachypterus
  • Magellanic Steamer Duck - Tachyeres pteneres
  • White-Headed Steamer Duck - Tachyeres leucocephalus
Although some varieties of the steamer duck can fly, they are said to 'prefer not to'* due to their large size, small wings and heavy bulk. The male can weigh up to 4.5kg and the female up to 3kg, making taking off an extremely difficult excercise. Instead the steamer duck moves across the water by rapid circular paddling motions of its wings, making it look like a traditional style paddle steamer! This action is mainly used to chase of other birds, as all varieties of steamer duck are extremely territorial.

The steamer duck has adapted to live in any sort of coastal environment except steep cliffs, which it obviously can't utilise due to not being able to fly. Marine resources such as shellfish and molluscs make up the majority of their diet, which can be found easily in shallow or sloping waters. The birds nest during September - December (the Southern Hemisphere Spring) and lay between 5-10 eggs which hatch and fledge in the ensuing months, the young having left the nest by March or April.

Another possible reason for the bird's name derives from the times of the great oceanic explorations of the Middle Ages. Due to the bird not being a particularly good flyer, it would have been easy to catch as a source of food for the adventuring seamen. The meat is extremely tough and inedible, and it is thought that the bird had to be steamed for a considerable time before the flesh became tender enough to eat.


*http://www.seabirds.org/falklands/birds/sd.htm
See also:
http://www.falklands.gov.fk/pb/fi/waterfowl.htm

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