Greater Rhea

Rhea americana

Species Information

Darren can be heard from across the park when he makes his ‘booming’ noise to impress the three female rheas. These funny birds love to sprint around the pond whilst unpredictably changing direction!

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Found mainly in grasslands and savannahs in south-eastern areas of South America, ranging from Brazil to Argentina.

The rhea is one of the largest birds in the world and the largest in the Americas. It is flightless, yet has long, powerful legs which allows them to run up to speeds of 35mph. A rhea will grow to full size within 6 months but are not sexually mature for 2 years.

Rheas are omnivores. Plants, fruits, and seeds make up the majority of their diet, but they also will feed on small birds, frogs, lizards, fish, snakes and insects. They also occasionally consume faecal matter of other rheas.

Up to 15 years in the wild.

Rhea’s are very sociable. They often feed in groups of rheas and other animals such as deer and guanacos. This is advantageous because they can spend less time being vigilant and more time feeding as there is safety in numbers. However, they remain vigilant of predators regardless, especially during the breeding season and in higher vegetation, as predators are more abundant.

Males become solitary and territorial during the breeding season, whereas females congregate in groups of about 12. Females will be attracted to a male who can fight off other males to establish a territory. Females will then lay an egg a day for up to 10 days, which can add up to 80 eggs for a male to incubate! After 35-40 days, the eggs will hatch within a 35-hour window of each other. The male will then rear the chicks by himself for 4-6 months.

Near Threatened. There population is decreasing due to agricultural expansion into their habitats and illegal hunting pressures.

Rheas swallow rocks and pebbles to help them digest food!