You do not want to run across this duck in a dark alley. The Fuegian steamer duck has the equivalent of brass knuckles on the edges of its wings and with a body built like a feathered tank, can easily beat the snot out of any other bird that looks at it the wrong way. If are unfortunate enough to run across one, avert your gaze – quickly. Keep your head down and make no sudden movements as you quietly sneak away.
The heads and necks of steamer ducks are massive, much thicker than normal ducks, and their bodies are equipped with thickened skin for additional armor-like protection. All of this extra protection pushes the steamer duck’s weight to a hefty 10 pounds (mallard ducks weigh only 3 pounds) and gives them the appearance of the biggest bully on the playground (but Reeko suggests you make no wise quacks about their weight).
See the orange nubbins on the edge of the steamer duck’s wings in the picture above? Those are hard, bone-like spurs which, like in a scene from the movie Bloodsport, the steamer duck uses to pound its foes into unconscious oblivion. One scientist described a scene of avian carnage he witnessed in Argentina that was so violent, it would make Darkseid cringe with fear. In the attack, a steamer-duck caught a nearby shoveler duck who had apparently either commented on the steamer duck’s weight or had ventured too close to the steamer’s woman-friend.
“In this attack, which lasted over three and a half minutes, the steamer-duck grabbed the shoveler by the neck and pounded its body with his wing knobs. Several meters away, a female steamer-duck displayed excitedly, calling and stretching repeatedly. At intervals, the male steamer-duck pulled the shoveler beneath the surface, then raised it up again and renewed the wing-beating. After approximately two minutes, the male steamer-duck was distracted by the female and displayed with her. Within seconds, he returned to the shoveler, grabbed it by the neck, and again beat it another 15-20 times with its wings.”
And lest you think this was just a single, isolated quazy duck attack, a biologist from the University of Miami described a similar encounter with a steamer duck he witnessed one morning (at the “quack” of dawn) in South America.
“I was down in the Strait of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego and I saw some birds really close to some rocks. And I went up to photograph and they were really upset with me, like, amazingly upset with me. And they just came right at me.”
After the incident, the scientists examined the area around the rocks thinking they would find eggs that the duck was protecting. They found no eggs nor a nest. The duck was a steamer duck and was just plain mean.
Steamer ducks are famous in South America for their brutality and ability to fight foes for up to 20 minutes at a time. Scientists are unsure why the steamer duck, which is native to Argentina, is so aggressive (and angry) but believe the ducks are so violent not only to chase other species away, but to make an example of their foe. Yes, you heard correct. The steamer duck uses thug tactics to strike fear in the other birds. According to one scientist:
“Possibly observational learning is important, and holding a ‘public beating’ enhances the effectiveness of territorial displays.”
At this point, you would nary bat an eye if Reeko told you these thug-like ducks travel in mafia-style street gangs. For those naive persons we say this: the steamer ducks travels around in mafia-style street gangs! A group of scientists working on a duck-umentary were filming the steamer duck in action when they heard a series mysterious “quick quick” noises coming from the water and noticed a series of unusual “mass spooks”, instances where birds would suddenly become skittish and fly away from the water for no reason. This puzzled the scientists who swore they would not leave until they figured out what was spooking the other birds and where the strange noise was coming from (yep, they were trying to “quack” the case – stop it Reeko, you’re quacking me up!). Finally, after watching the birds for quite some time, they noticed a pair of steamer ducks creeping through the water with only the tops of their heads and tips of their tails sticking above the water’s surface. Yes, as terrifying as it sounds, the steamer ducks have evolved enemy tactical skills – they were stalking the other ducks!
As for the strange “quick quick” noises the scientists heard – it turned out to be nothing more than a duck with hiccups and had nothing whatsoever to do with the evil (but interesting) Fuegian steamer ducks.
BONUS: Duck jokes
Duck walks into a bar – normal duck version
A duck walks into a bar and asks the bartender, “Got any bread?” The bartender says, “No.” The duck shakes his feathers, quacks, and leaves.
The next day the duck walks into the bar and says, “Got any bread?” The bartender says, “No, and if you come back, I’ll nail your beak to the bar!” The duck shakes his feathers, quacks, and leaves.
The very next day the bartender notices the duck back at the bar and says, “OK, wise guy, what is it today?” The duck says, “Got any nails?” The bartender, with a puzzled look on his face, says “No.” Then the duck says, “Got any bread?”
Duck walks into a bar – steamer duck version
A duck walks into a bar and asks the bartender, “Got any bread?” The bartender says, “No.” The duck shakes his feathers, quacks, and shouts, “Nobody move! Give me all of your bread and nobody gets hurt!”