- Most notably, in terms of height, the incredible Rhea ranks as the third largest bird in the world. That occurs because the creature follows only the ostrich and emu in terms of sheer physical size.
- Further, only three extant species of this animal currently remain recognized by scientists. Formerly, the same experts acknowledged two, but scientists later determined that a third existed.
- Also, two of the three species presently list as Near Threatened with the IUCN. Pending further evaluation of conservation efforts, this ranking easily might change, sadly, for the worse.
- Finally, the Rhea faces several distinct threats to its existence. The greatest threats these incredible flightless birds face, however, consist of climate change and habitat loss.
Rhea Physical Description
Firstly, the plumage of the marvelous Rhea generally presents a combination of brown and gray. The animal also has long, powerful legs, as well as long necks, similar to the ostrich.
In addition, it shows moderate sexual dimorphism. Due to this, the males grow slightly larger than the females. The males sometimes attain a height of as much as 67 inches (170 cm).
Further, in weight, some members of this astounding genus occasionally weigh as much as 88 lb (40 kg). Finally, distinguishing it from most birds, this fascinating animal has only three toes.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Rheiformes
- Family: Rheidae
- Genus: Rhea
Rhea Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The amazing Rhea evolved as solely native to quite specific portions of the continent of South America. Further, this area includes the countries of Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, and Paraguay.
Additionally, the bird remains primarily vegetarian, preferring leaves, seeds, plants, and roots. It will, however, also eat a wide variety of insects, small rodents, and even reptiles.
Furthermore, the animal has shown itself to be quite adaptable. Nevertheless, it appears to prefer open grasslands for its habitat, ideally placed near large bodies of water.
The Rhea is generally a silent animal, except during the breeding time when the male attempts to attract a mate with a loud, booming call. The animals are polygamous, and the male may mate with anywhere from 2-12 females each season.
The eggs are also large in size, and clutches may number 10-60 eggs at a time. Finally, after hatching, the young reach adult size within six months, but will not breed until they are at least two years old.