Return of Bird of the Week: Greater Rhea

And now for something completely different. The Greater Rhea, the signature bird species of Brazil’s Cerrado and Pantanal.

Greater Rhea, Pantanal, Brazil

Greater Rhea, Pantanal, Brazil

The Greater Rhea is the western world’s largest bird, flightless and a cousin to the Ostriches of Africa and the Emus of Australia. They are all Ratites, a super group of large, long-legged, flightless birds. The Greater Rhea is smaller than Ostriches and Emus, but at 63 inches in height, still a very impressive bird. Ornithologists can match the speciation of Ratites to Gondwana’s plate tectonic breakup. Geology confirmed by biology; you have to like it.

Greater Rhea Male with Chicks, Pantanal, Brazil

Greater Rhea Male with Chicks, Pantanal, Brazil

Among Rheas, the males raise the young. The male’s harem of several females lay the eggs in a single nest, where the eggs are incubated by the male, who subsequently protects the chicks into adulthood. The young reach full adult size in about six months but do not breed until they reach two years of age.

Greater Rhea Chicks, Pantanal, Brazil

Greater Rhea Chicks, Pantanal, Brazil

Greater Rhea are classified as near threatened, chiefly because of habitat loss. The populations of Pantanal National Park appeared healthy, but that’s a tiny part of the species’ original range.

For more bird photos please visit Frozen Feather Images.



2 thoughts on “Return of Bird of the Week: Greater Rhea

  1. Why, oh why, did those in charge of English language avian nomenclature call this wonderful creature the

    Greater Rhea ?

    Say it out loud and it’s obviously referring to the Brazilian version of Montezuma’s Revenge.

    • WC is reminded of the late, great Victor Borge’s classic “Phonetic Pronunciation,” which he uses to explain an opera. The song at the end, in which the heroine dies, is an aria, and that specific kind of song,where the singer dies, is a die aria. Badda-boom.


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