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< > Tachyeres brachypterus - Falkland steamerduck (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Falkland Flightless Steamer Duck
Falkland-Dampfschiffente (German)
Brassemer des Malouines (French)
Canard-vapeur des Iles Falkland (French)
Patovapor Malvinero (Spanish)
Pato vapor malvinero (Spanish)

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B4, B8, B19, B25

Aviculture references:
J23.13.w7, B29, B30, B97

Other References

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information


General information:
  • Steamerducks are territorial and aggressive, requiring a separate enclosure. A deep and preferably large area of water should be provided. Pelleted food including breeder diet and floating diets have been suggested, possibly with added brown bread.

(J23.13.w7, B29, B30)

Species-specific information:

  • Falkland steamerducks are extremely aggressive birds which may kill small ducks, and should be kept in a separate enclosure.
  • A good area of clear running water is required for these ducks. Seaduck diet (Clark & Butcher Ltd., UK) is recommended, although Diet A (Special Diet Services) has been used successfully for feeding adults in the past.
  • These ducks are difficult to breed in captivity. Successful pairing may require that the birds are introduced to one another before they reach one year old
  • Barrels have been preferred for nesting and a barrel covered with turf, on an island, has been chosen, although a large ground box might be used; eggs may be laid end of March to May.
  • Incubation of eggs under a Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata - Muscovy duck), or as a second choice a broody hen, is preferable to artificial incubation.
  • Ducklings have been successfully hand reared with access to swimming water introduced gradually over the second week so that they were on water fully by two weeks old. . Ducklings may be aggressive to newcomers, even with an age difference of only one day separate rearing accommodation may be required.
  • Starter crumbs (Clark & Butcher) supplemented with chopped hard boiled egg is suggested as an initial diet, progressing to Sea Duck grower pellets. Chopped fish (e.g. sand-eel) has also been used, but may cause matting of the down.
  • Prophylactic medication with ketoconazole (12.5mg tablet per duckling from ten days old, increased to 25mg/duckling from 22 days old) has been used in ducklings to reduce the risk of fungal infections (Aspergillosis, Candidiasis).

(B29, B97, N1.101.w1, V.w13).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme suggested average closed ring size: T 20.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length Male 29 inches, 74cm; Female 24 inches, 61cm (B3); 61-74cm (B1)
Adult weight General About 3.4 - 4.442kg (B1)
Male 4.3 - 4.42kg (B3); mean 9.5 lbs. (B8)
Female Average 3.4kg (B3); 7.4 lbs. (B8)
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Adult Bill Male Bright orange, paler towards tip, with black nail (B3, B25)
Variations (If present) Female:- Olive-grey with yellow base and culmen (B8, B25)
Eyes (Iris) Male Dark brown (B8, B25)
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Dusky-grey (B25)
Eyes (Iris) Dark brown (B25)

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Adult Male Deep yellow (B8, B25).
Variations (If present) Female:- Yellow (B8, B25).
Juvenile Brownish yellow (B25).

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Adult Male Head and neck pale grey with darker mottling on sides of head and near bill, white eyering and eyeline continuing backwards, throat and foreneck mottled brownish, shading to lower foreneck yellowish.

Upperparts and breast blue-grey with darker slate-grey feather edges, and brownish colouring over breast, back and flanks. Abdomen, ventral area and undertail coverts white, tail grey.

Wings dark grey with outer 6-7 secondaries and their greater coverts (speculum) white, primaries grey-black. Large bony knobs on wing.

(B3, B4, B8, B25)

Variations (If present) Female:- Head and neck grey with sides browner, narrow eyering and eyeline distinct, white. Body and wings similar to males but overall redder: maroon-brown feather margins (B4, B25)

Breeding male:- head and neck whiter but still with dark face. (B8, B25)
Males head becomes whiter with age (B3, B8).

Juvenile Similar to female but head and neck dusky brown with eyering white but no eyeline (B3, B4, B25)

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts brown-grey with line from bill through eye curving down neck white; underparts pale, continuing as pale grey collar over upper back (B4).
Bill: Dark grey (B40
Feet: Dark grey (B4)

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Variable but peak September to December (B1, B3)
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

Near water, on the ground, concealed in kelp or tussocks of grass, sometimes in old penguin burrows, well-lined with down. Usually along shore, occasionally up to 1km inland (B1, B3, B8, B25).

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 5-6 (B8)
Range 5-10 (B1); 4-11 (B8)
Egg Description Creamy (B4, B8) or buff (B3). Size: 82 x 57mm Weight: 147g (B3).

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28-30 days (B8); 28-40 days, about 34 days (B1).

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120-130 days (B8); about 12 weeks (B1).

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Sexual Maturity

Males Two to three years (B8).
Females Two to three years (B8).

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dive and up-end in shallow water, on incoming tides (B1, B3, B4, B8, B25).
Newly-hatched Dive from a few days old (B3).

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Solitary nests (B1).
Incubation By female, with male defending (B3, B4, B8).
Newly-hatched Tended by both parents (B3, B4, B8)

Driven from territory once independent, congregate in flocks (B4).

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Breeding pairs aggressive and highly territorial (B3, B4, B8, B25). Non-breeding birds form large groups, sometimes of a few hundred birds (B4, B8).
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Life-long monogamous pairs (B4, B8)

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Predation in Wild

Sea lions and perhaps orcas may take adults (B1, B8). Gulls, skuas, caracaras and perhaps rats take eggs (B8). Caracaras, other raptors, skuas, gulls and giant-petrels as well as feral cats take ducklings (B1, B8).

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Activity Patterns

Feed on incoming tide, loaf when tide outgoing (B8, B25)
Circadian --

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Natural Diet


Mussels, other molluscs and crustaceans (B3, B4, B8).

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Amphipods, isopods, snails (B3)

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)


Falkland Islands.

Movements Sedentary; only small scale movements.

(B1, B3, B4, B19, B25, B26)

Occasional and Accidental




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Rocky shores, particularly small islands and sheltered bays (B1, B8, B19).

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Intraspecific variation


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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Not globally threatened, abundant along some coasts (B1, B8).

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats --

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Captive Populations

Very scarce in collections (B8).

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