Darwin’s rhea

Least concern
Scientific name : Rhea pennata

Where do they live?

In open plains near a lake, river or pond in South America (Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru)

Did you know?

Escape tactics
Rheas are flightless but can run at speeds of up 60 km/h when pursued by a predator. They will either zigzag and make sudden changes in trajectory, drop to the ground to hide or cross a river as they are good swimmers.
With their excellent vision and sense of smell, they warn of predators with a whistle, serving as a sentinel for other herbivores that feed in the same pastures

Darwin's rhea, also known as the lesser rhea, is a social bird that lives in mixed groups of 30 individuals. In the breeding season, males parade in pursuit of females, calling and circling around them with their wings unfolded. It is the male that incubates and protects the eggs. When the birds go in search of food (plants, seeds and insects), they keep watch over the young from afar by whistling. In the case of danger, the young will drop to the ground or protect themselves under the wing of the male.

Unfortunately, when they are not eaten as eggs, the young are often taken by humans for domestication. Adults are also hunted for their meat, skin and feathers.


92 to 110 cm at the withers.


12 to 25 kg.

Life expectancy

20 years in the wild and 40 years in captivity .

Incubation period

35-40 days.

Human-Animal Connection

Useful to sheep farmers

Darwin's rhea eats burdock flowers. This means there are less flowers that get tangled in the wool of the sheep that can be a problem for the farmers.