Greater Rhea

One of my favorite birds of Bolivia is the Greater Rhea (Rhea americana) and they are quite common in the grasslands and ranches around Santa Cruz. In the local Guarani language, they are known as Ñandu. You can see them often near the Viru Viru International Airport. I photographed this large adult at the Botanical Gardens. Many of the ranches, resorts and other large places have them kind of as pets. They are related to the ostrich of Africa and the emu of Australia. They are found in these places and not in the northern hemisphere probably because of origins in the southern supercontinent Gondwanaland.

They are found in the grasslands and savannas of eastern Brazil, through Paraguay, Bolivia, down to central Argentina. They are beginning to be threatened through loss of habitat. Farmers burning their crops and killing them because they are regarded as agricultural pests have caused this drop in populations. They are successfully farmed and become very tame. This one came within a few feet of me, although I stayed away because it was about my size. It is quite a stunning look to see a bird that big that close.

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