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Greater Rhea

Rhea americana

Greater Rhea

  • Order: Rheiformes
  • Family: Rheidae
  • Polytypic 5 Subspecies

Authors: Hodes, C.

Rhea americana

La Pampa, Argentina; 16 September 2013 © Chris Wood

The Greater Rhea is South America’s largest bird. It is flightless, with a smaller relative, the Lesser Rhea (Rhea pennata), restricted to Patagonia and the Andes. As in all ratites, the males of the Greater Rhea incubate and raise the young. Males mate with several females, all of which lay eggs in a common nest. This mixed clutch can be sizable. It is not uncommon to see a male caring for twenty or more striped young. The Greater Rhea is found in grasslands, savanna or grassy wetlands in southern South America. Much of their habitat also is used for ranching, but more and more of it is becoming cropland which may be reducing available habitat for the rhea. Furthermore fencing is a problem and can affect the movements of the rhea; this species does not jump over fences, although it can go underneath them.

Recommended Citation

Hodes, C.. 2010. Greater Rhea (Rhea americana), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Campo grasslands
  • Foraging Strata:Terrestrial
  • Foraging Behavior:Peck
  • Diet:Omnivorous
  • Sociality:Single-Species Flocks
  • Mating System:Polyandry and Polygyny
  • Nest Form:Scrape
  • Clutch: -
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern