dark-plumaged adult (Zoo; 2011-11-27)

Greater Rhea
Rhea americana

Native Range: South America

Notes: one of several flightless "ratite" birds that makes its living by walking and running on strong legs; weighs more that 50 pounds and stands more that 5 feet tall; uses its wings to maneuver quickly when running; defends itself with powerful kicks; also lays huge eggs in a nest that is tended by a male who may incubate as many as 30 eggs (from multiple females) at once; eats plants and invertebrate animals; altogether, the so-called "ratite" birds consist of several ancient lineages that are evolutionarily distinct enough as to warrant placement into several different taxonomic orders (Rheiformes in the case of rheas); males of this species usually are darker than females but leucistic (lighter-colored) birds of both sexes are common both in captivity and in the wild.

long neck and legs; wide bill (Zoo; 2011-11-27)

leucistic (reduced pigmentation) individual (Zoo; 2011-11-27)

grazes grass and other vegetation (Zoo; 2011-11-27)

strong legs can give a poweful kick (Zoo; 2011-11-27)

strutting its stuff; adults retain downy feathers (Zoo; 2011-11-27)

resting (Zoo; 2011-11-27)

large, thick-shelled egg (Zoo; 2011-11-27

rather nomadic and can cover great distances (Zoo; 2011-11-27)
head portrait of light-phase bird (Zoo; 2011-11-27) head portrait of dark-phase bird (Zoo; 2011-11-27)