|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|The Greater Rhea (Rhea americana) is a flightless bird found in eastern South America. Other names for the greater rhea include the grey, common, or American rhea; ñandú (Guaraní); or ema (Portuguese). One of two species in the genus Rhea, in the family Rheidae, the greater rhea is endemic to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. It inhabits a variety of open areas, such as grasslands, savanna or grassy wetlands. Weighing 50–55 pounds (23–25 kg), the greater rhea is the largest bird in South America. In the wild, the greater rhea has a life expectancy of 10.5 years. It is also notable for its reproductive habits, and for the fact the that a group has established itself in Germany in recent years.|
Taxonomy and systematics
The greater rhea derives its scientific name from Rhea, a Greek goddess, and the Latinized form of America. It was originally described by Carolus Linnaeus in his 18th-century work, Systema Naturae under the name Struthio camelus americanus. He identified specimens from Sergipe, and Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, in 1758. They are from the family Rheidae, and the order Struthioniformes, commonly known asratites. They are joined in this order by emus, ostriches, cassowaries, and kiwis, along with the extinct forms moas, and elephant birds.
There are five subspecies of the greater rhea; their ranges meet around the Tropic of Capricorn:
• R. a. americana – campos of northern and eastern Brazil
• R. a. intermedia – Uruguay and extreme southeastern Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul state)
• R. a. nobilis – eastern Paraguay, east of Rio Paraguay
• R. a. araneipes – chaco of Paraguay and Bolivia and the Mato Grosso state of Brazil
• R. a. albescens – plains of Argentina south to the Rio Negro province
Main subspecific differences are the extent of the black coloring of the throat and the height. However, subspecies of the greater rhea differ so little across their range that, without knowledge of the place of origin, it is essentially impossible to identify captive birds by subspecies.
The adults have an average weight of 20–27 kg and often measure 127 to 140 cm long from beak to tail; they usually stand about 1.5 m tall to the top of the head. The males are generally bigger than the females. Large males can weigh up to 40 kg, stand nearly 1.83 m tall and measure over 150 cm long, although this is rare.
The head and bill are fairly small, the latter measuring 8–10.4 cm in length. The legs are long, with the tarsus measuring between 33.5 and 37 cm, and strong and have 22 horizontal plates on the front of the tarsus. They have three toes, and the hind toe is absent. The wings of the American rhea are rather long; the birds use them during running to maintain balance during tight turns, and also during courtship displays.
Greater rheas have a fluffy, tattered-looking plumage, that is gray or brown, with high individual variation, The head, neck, rump, and thighs are feathered. In general, males are darker than females. Even in the wild—particularly in Argentina—leucistic individuals (with white body plumage and blue eyes) as well as albinos occur. Hatchling greater rheas are grey with dark lengthwise stripes.
Distribution and habitat
The Greater Rhea is endemic to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. This species inhabits grassland dominated by satintail (Imperata) and bahiagrass(Paspalum) species, as well as savanna, scrub forest, chaparral, and even desert and palustrine lands, though it prefers areas with at least some tall vegetation. It is absent from the humid tropical forests of the Mata Atlântica and planalto uplands along the coast of Brazil and extends south to 40° latitude. They prefer lower elevation and seldom go above 1,200 metres. During the breeding season (spring and summer), it stays near water.
A small non-indigenous population of the Greater Rhea established itself in Germany. Three pairs escaped from a farm in Groß Grönau, Schleswig-Holstein, in August 2000. These birds survived the winter and succeeded in breeding in a habitat sufficiently similar to their native South American range. They eventually crossed the Wakenitz river and settled in Nordwestmecklenburg in the area around and particularly to the north of Thandorf village. A biosurvey conducted in late 2012 found the population has grown to more than 100 and is settling in permanently.
Behavior and ecology
Individual and flock behavior
The greater rhea is a silent bird except during mating season, when they make low booming noises, and as chicks, when they give a mournful whistle. During the non-breeding season they will form flocks of between 10 and 100 birds. When in flocks, they tend to be less vigilant, but the males can get aggressive towards other males. When chased they will flee in a zigzag pattern, alternately raising one wing then the other. These flocks break up in the winter in time for breeding season.
Status and conservation
The greater rhea is considered a Near Threatened species according to the IUCN, and they have a decreasing range of about 6,540,000 square kilometres. The species is believed to be declining due to increased hunting and the conversion of central South American grasslands to farmland and ranchland. The populations of Argentina and Uruguay are most seriously affected by the decline.
Farmers sometimes consider the Greater Rhea pests, because they will eat broad-leaved crop plants, such as cabbage, chard and bok choi. Where they occur as pests, farmers tend to hunt and kill greater rheas. The burning of crops in South America has also contributed to their decline.
Hotelcalifornia, Alex99, Silvio2006, kinglove, AKBAR-ALI-ASIF, oscarromulus, imageme, Chiza, CeltickRanger, anel has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.
- [2014-07-22 7:38]
You've worn friend, this beautiful capture of this "ÑANDÚ" and took water droplets falling from its peak and still in the air. Surrounded; in addition; of "CAMALOTES(water hyacinth)"-typical aquatic plants in coastal rivers of our great-...
A big hug.
Precise and useful NOTE.Beautiful picture of this Rhea.Nice moment you have captured.Like flashing water moment.Nice details and sharpness.Well presentation.
Thanks for sharing,
Regards and have a nice time,
- [2014-07-22 8:17]
You have selected moment for shooting perfectly. I like the pose of the bird and scenery at whole. It gives a nice idea about of the features of the captured place and main subject too. Lights, colours and details are superb as usual for your works. Well done and TFS.
- [2014-07-22 8:17]
Hi Peter,another rare specie,caught with the best timing drinking,magnificent capture with the usual spectacular quality,i like it! Have a nice evening and thanks,LUCIANO
Weer een mooie scherpe foto met veel details
leuk zo bij het water ,maakt de foto toch weer anders
bedankt gr lou
Ciao Peter, great capture of superb creature, fine details, excellent sharpness, wonderful colors and splendid light, very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio
Hello Peter. Pefect momento to shot. A usefull note too. Thanks.
照的很漂亮 很美丽的小鳥 也很清晰
Another top quality shot of an interesting bird. Great exposure, beautiful natural colors and very good contrast with the background. Tiny catch-light in the visible eye is also very impressive. This bird has a close resemblance with an emu. Thanks for sharing this shot with a useful note,
First & FOREMOST: my condolences to you and your nation ... you are the victim of MAN KILLING MAN for no reason whatsoever.
Loved your detailed notes!!!
The focusing is simply put: OUTSTANDING!!!
Picture postcard perfection
Best and most kind regards,
Mario from Canada.
- [2014-07-25 2:59]
Excellent capture and fine détails of the Nandu, the sharpness and the colors are superb.
Light and britghness are amazing TFS.
My best regards.
- [2014-07-26 10:35]
Another nice portrait interesting bird. Amazing colors, good composition and details.
Hi Peter, Perfect capture moment of this huge bird catching its prey in its natural habitat. Details and clarity are well delivered under a good management of light. Thank for sharing
- [2014-07-30 8:36]
Hola Peter, que gran especie y hermosa foto pudo obtener de esta bella y esquixa ave, me gusto el entorno y la acción de la toma...saludos.
Excellent photo of this bird species from South America,
fine POV, DOF, and framing, you shot the photo
at the bird's best pose, with excellent focus,
sharpness, and details, TFS
- [2014-08-03 5:05]
An interesting bird shown in its natural habitat. Very well shown at the moment of drinking. Interesting note too. I didn't know about these birds in Germany!