Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata)


French: Merganette des torrents German: Sturzbachente Spanish: Pato torrentero
Other common names: Colombian Torrent Duck (colombiana), Peruvian Torrent Duck (leucogenis, turneri), Argentine Torrent Duck, Chilean Torrent Duck (armata)

Merganetta armata


, 1842,

Andes of Chile, latitude 34°–35° S


Taxonomic status of races leucogenis, turneri, garleppi and berlepschi unclear; may be better considered as colour morphs of a single subspecies (leucogenis), since birds resembling different races occur together on the same rivers in Peru. Proposed race fraenata is synonymized with nominate armata. Six subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. colombiana Des Murs, 1845 – Andes from Venezuela S to N Ecuador.
  • M. a. leucogenis (Tschudi, 1843) – Andes from C Ecuador to C Peru.
  • M. a. turneri P. L. Sclater & Salvin, 1869 – Andes of S Peru and extreme N Chile (N Tarapacá).
  • M. a. garleppi Berlepsch, 1894 – Andes of Bolivia.
  • M. a. berlepschi E. J. O. Hartert, 1909 – Andes of N Chile, S Bolivia and NW Argentina.
  • M. a. armata Gould, 1841 – most of Andes of Chile (S from Atacama) and S Argentina (S from San Juan).
  • Descriptive notes

    40–46 cm; male 440–487·5 g, female 315–354 g. Unmistakable as it is only duck regularly found on fast-moving Andean rivers and streams. Slim and long... read more


    Commonest vocalization of male is a clear “wheet”, that of female a throaty “queech”, which when... read more


    Mountain rivers and streams of fast-flowing, clear waters, with gradient varying between 1 in 200... read more

    Food and feeding

    Aquatic invertebrates, mainly insect larvae (Rheophila, Caddis) and molluscs; perhaps also some fish. Principally takes... read more


    Season variable according to locality, with season highly protracted, perhaps even year-round, in regions closes to equator; season Nov... read more


    Adult birds virtually sedentary, but displaced from breeding territory by winter weather conditions... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Numbers of colombiana estimated at 7000–12,000, with armata perhaps numbering 4000–10,000 individuals,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 December 2019).