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12 surprising flightless birds

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on June 2, 2017, 11:34 a.m.
These handsome ducks are one of the few species that can't fly.

Photo: Olaf Oliviero Riemer/Wikipedia

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Fuegian steamer duck

There are four species of steamer duck, three of which are flightless. The Fuegian steamer duck can be found in South America along the rocky shores from southern Chile to Tierra del Fuego. The steamer duck species get their name from the way they swim — when they really get moving fast, they flap their wings while also paddling with their feet and end up looking a bit like a paddle steamer. Meanwhile, the genus name for the species, Tachyeres, means "having fast oars" or "fast rower."

This particular species is the largest of the steamer ducks, measuring 26–33 inches long and weighing anywhere from 7.7–15.4 pounds. This makes it the heaviest of the ducks by far, and basically the same mass as large species of goose. But their size and aggression is to their benefit, as it helps keep predators away from nests with eggs or chicks, and adults have few if any natural predators. Their wings may be way too short for flight, but they are definitely used for fights!