The greater rhea is the largest bird on the American continent. It is part of the ‘ratite’ family, a group of birds which ostrich, emu, kiwi and cassowary are also a part of. They are a flightless bird, with strong powerful legs, allowing them to run up to 35mph.
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|Distribution:||Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina|
|Habitat:||Tall grassland, open woodland, wooded savannah and occasionally crop fields|
|Height:||129 - 1 50cm tall|
|Weight:||20 - 40kg|
|Lifespan:||In the wild 10 -15 years, in captivity up to 30 years|
|Threats:||Hunting for eggs, meat, feathers and skins|
Scientific name: Rhea americana
The rhea is the largest bird in the Americas. They are unmistakable due to their large size, long legs, and lack of ability to fly. They are superficially very similar to the ostrich, which led Charles Darwin to first describe them as a ‘South American ostrich’, although they are not thought to be directly related.
The body is greyish in colour, with dark bands around the neck and upper back. There are whitish feathers on the wings, under body, and thighs. The dark ring around the bottom of the neck will darken during the breeding season in males.
The rhea lacks the keel bone which is found in most birds, this is the bone which the flight muscles are usually attached to, but as these are flightless birds they lack it completely. The wings of the rhea are large for a terrestrial bird, however they will use them to help balance and steer them when running. T