Greater Rhea


Greater rhea

Scientific Name

Rhea americana


The greater rhea is the largest bird on the American continent and is flightless. They are social animals, living in groups of up to 30 individuals.

Males are slightly larger than the females and greyer in colour. Male rheas have a more pronounced dark patch on their neck and upper back.

At the start of the breeding season, females will split into small groups and males will fight over them. It is only the male who incubates the eggs and rears the chicks, with the females leaving to mate with other males and lay eggs in different nests.

Rheas have a deep call which sounds more like the roar of a mammal than a bird call. The call is mainly produced by the males during courtship. 


The greater rhea mainly feeds on plant material, including leaves, roots, seeds and fruits. However, they are omnivores so they also feed on insects and small animals, such as lizards and small birds.

Size Fact

The head to body length of a greater rhea is 127 - 140cms. 

Food Fact

Rheas swallow pebbles to help grind up their food. 

Fun Fact

Feathers from greater rhea are used to make feather dusters! 

IUCN Red list

The greater rhea is classed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red list. Numbers have declined due to hunting for meat, eggs, skin and feathers. Habitat loss is another threat to the species as large areas of grassland are converted for agriculture. 

Where do I live?

The greater rhea is found throughout South America in Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. They are typically found in tall grassland, open woodland and wooded savannah.

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