Harteman Wildfowl, presented by Jan Harteman

Torrent duck

Merganetta armata

Bergbeekeend / Sturzbachente / Merganetta des torrents


The Torrent duck is the only member of the genus Merganetta. Today it is placed in the shelduck subfamily Tadorninae.  Its closest relative may be the Blue Duck of New Zealand. It  is a resident breeder in the Andes of South America, nesting in small waterside caves and other sheltered spots. It is a powerful swimmer and diver even in white water, but is reluctant to fly more than short distances.


This taxon occurs in six subspecies:

  • Merganetta armata columbiana found from Venezuela to north Ecuador;
  • Merganetta armata leucogenis from central Ecuador to central Peru;
  • Merganetta armata turneri in south Peru;
  • Merganetta armata garleppi in Bolivia;
  • Merganetta armata berlepschi in north Chile and north-west Argentina;
  • Merganetta armata armata throughout most of the Andes of Chile and Argentina.

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern (IUCN, 2012).


Above: Captive torrent ducks in a private avicultural collection (Germany, 2016).


Torrent ducks have been maintained only rarely in captivity. Torrent ducks may be maintained full-winged in an aviary with clear running water and rock formations and fed on standard waterfowl pellets, which may be supplemented with mealworms. Nest boxes should be provided built into or on rock formations. 

Also read Keeping torrent ducks in aviculture



Above: adult male Torrent duck



Above: adult male Torrent duck



Above: adult male Torrent duck



Above: adult male Torrent duck



Above: adult female Torrent duck



Above: adult pair ofTorrent ducks, female in front



Above: adult female Torrent duck


Above: Display of two couples of Torrent duck pairs in Lauca NP, Chile.


Above: Torrent ducks in Northern Patagonia, Argentina


Above: Torrent ducks in Chingaza National Park, Colombia

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