The Greater Rhea (Rhea Americana) is a large bird. It is also known as the American Rhea. It cannot fly. Birds that cannot fly are called ratites. The Ostrich, Kiwi, and Cassowary are also ratites.
The Greater Rhea is emu-like with a body of large fluffy grey or brown feathers, a long neck, and long legs. It has three toes like the emu (the ostrich has two toes). Its head, neck, rump, and thighs are feathered.
It grows to 127-140 centimetres (50-55 inches) long from beak to tail. Its height is 140-170 centimetres (55-67 inches). It is the largest bird in South America.
The Greater Rhea is native to South America, in countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. It prefers open areas, such as grasslands, savannahs, or grassy wetlands. It does not like humid, tropical regions.
It eats leaves, seeds, fruit, insects, scorpions, spiders, rodents, reptiles, and small birds. It swallows small pebbles that help it to grind down its food for easier digestion.
Its predators include the cougar and the jaguar, and sometimes wild dogs.
It is often seen in flocks of 10-100 individuals.
The male Greater Rhea makes the nest on the ground. The female lays 5-10 large eggs. The male looks after the eggs of several females in one nest. He may look after as many as 80 eggs. The eggs are half the size of ostrich eggs. They hatch after 29-43 days.
It has an average life expectancy of 10 years.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM