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Rheidae - Rheas

Rhea
Greater Rhea Rhea americana ©James Lowen Website

The Rheas are large (the Greater Rhea is the largest bird in South America weighing c. 25kg and standing up to 1.8m tall) flightless birds that are three toed, terrestrial and have long legs and long necks. They live for about 10 years in the wild. The are confined to South America where they inhabit open grassland, grassy wetlands or scrub ranging from sea-level up to 4500m and even into very arid areas. When not breeding they form flocks of up to 100 birds. They generally eat broadleaf foliage, seeds and fruit but will also take insects, scorpions, reptiles, and small mammals and birds. Often eating seeds and tough vegetation they swallow pebbles which help grind the food and so aid digestion. As they tend not to eat grains they are considered beneficial to farmers as they will take pests from crops including locust, beetles and other pests.

Like other ratites males tend eggs and nests.

The IOC recognises just two species in this family, which are:

Greater Rhea Rhea americana
Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata

The 'Puna Rhea' was formerly considered a separate species but recent evidence shows it to be a race of Lesser Rhea.

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Rheas Rheidae

Family Account

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Rheas Rheidae

Family Account

Rheas Rheidae

IBC Family Account

IBC family account with taxonomy...

Rheas Rheidae

HBW Family Account

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Species Links

Greater Rhea Rhea americana

Species Account

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Greater Rhea Rhea americana

Species Account

Image of skull & Morphology

Greater Rhea Rhea americana

Species Account

Greater Rhea Rhea americana

IUCN Species Status

IUCN species profile...

Greater Rhea Rhea americana

BirdLife Species Account

BirdLife species profile...

Greater Rhea Rhea americana

Cornell Species Account

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Greater Rhea Rhea americana

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Greater Rhea Rhea americana

HBW Species Account

HBW species account

Greater Rhea Rhea americana

IBC Species Account

IBC species account and taxonomy...

Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata

BirdLife Species Account

BirdLife species profile...

Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata

Species Account

Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata

Cornell Species Account

Cornell species account with image...

Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata

IUCN Species Status

IUCN species profile...

Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata

HBW Species Account

HBW species account...

Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata

IBC Species Account

IBC species account with taxonomy...

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 2

Both species have a number of races.

The Lesser Rhea races are:
P.p. garleppi Chubb 1913 found in southern Peru, southqwest Bolicia and northwest Argentina
P.p. tarapacensis Chubb 1913 found in northern Chile
P.p. pennata d'Orbigny 1834 found in southern Chile and western central and southern Argentina.

The Greater Rhea races are:
R.a. americana Linneus 1758 found from northeat to southeast Brazil
R.a. intermedia Rothschild & Chubb 1914 found in southeat Brazil and Uruguat
R.a. nobilis Brodkorb 1939 found in eastern paraguay.

Other Links

Mating Behavior of the Male Greater Rhea

Article

Thaïs L. Codenotti and Fernando Alvarez - The Wilson Bulletin, Vol. 113, No. 1 (Mar., 2001), pp. 85-89

Stress in wild Greater Rhea populations Rhea americana

Article

...effects of agricultural activities on seasonal excreted glucocorticoid metabolite levels. A. Lèche, G. Bazzano, C. Hansen, J. L. Navarro, R. H. Marin, M. B. Martella - Journal of Ornithology, October 2014, Volume 155, Issue 4, pp 919-926

Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata

Article

Environmental factors influencing the distribution of the Lesser Rhea (Rhea pennata pennata) in southern Patagonia

Photographers & Artists

Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata

Gallery

Good image

Greater Rhea Rhea americana

Video

Zoo images... The Greater Rhea (Rhea americana) is a flightless bird found in eastern South America. Other names for the Greater Rhea include the Grey, Common, American Rhea, ñandú (Guaraní) or ema (Portuguese). One of two species in the genus Rhea, in the family Rheidae, the Greater Rhea is endemic to Argentina, Bolivia...

Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata

Video

Lesser Rhea (Rhea pennata), is a large flightless bird, but the smaller of the two extant species of rheas. It is found in the Altiplano and Patagonia in South America...