Rhea americana Linnaeus, 1758, Sergipe and Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. Five subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Common rhea; French: Nandou d’Amйrique; German: Nandu; Spanish: Сandъ.
50–55 in (127–140 cm); 44–88 lb (20–40 kg). General color gray or grayish brown above, whitish below without spotting in both sexes. The head and neck of the male are black or largely black. The female is paler. Unlike the lesser rhea, the whole length of the tarsus is bare and covered with transverse scutes.
Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia. The form in eastern Brazil, Rhea americana americana is the nominate, or first named, form. R. a. intermedia comes from southeastern Brazil and Uruguay, R. a. nobilis from Paraguay, R. a. araneiceps from Paraguay and Bolivia, and R. a. albescens from Paraguay and, possibly, Bolivia.
Grassland and pampas.
Greater rheas live at densities of 0.002–0.076 birds per acre (0.05–0.19 birds/ha). In the nonbreeding season they live in flocks of 20–50 birds. Once the breeding season starts, males establish a nest site and defend its immediate vicinity, attracting groups of females to lay in the nest.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Herbivore, feeds on grasses and forbs.
Males incubate eggs laid by harem of females in a nest on the ground. The mean clutch size is 26, the eggs coming from up to seven different females. Females are attracted to the nest by male displays in which the wings are prominently displayed. The male leads the female to the nest and often sits on it while she lays outside it. He then rolls the egg into the nest. Eggs are greenish yellow color, 5 by 3.5 in (13 by 9 cm). Incubation period is 29–43 days, by the male only.
Population fragmented by agricultural development.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Hunted for meat, leather, and feathers; now farmed.
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