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Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata


The Lesser Rhea is one of two species in the rhea family, both of which are confined to South America. Ostrich-like, rheas are flightless but are adept runners, reaching speeds of over 60 km/hr. The smaller of the two species, Lesser Rhea inhabits high-altitude puna in southern Peru and northern Chile, and shrub-steppe and grassland in southern Chile and southern Argentina. The smooth, plumulaceous feathers of this species are brown, tipped with white on the upperparts. Male rheas are simultaneously polygynous, mating with several females that then deposit their eggs in a single nest for him to tend. Females are serially polyandrous, mating with and laying for several males over the course of a season.

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Calls (Darwin's)

© Andrew Spencer

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Lesser Rhea (Rhea pennata), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: