Greater Rhea

Rhea ( Rhea americana)

The rhea ( Rhea americana) is a flightless bird from South America. He belongs to the order of ratites ( Struthioniformes ). Along with the Darwin - Nandu ( Pterocnemia Pennata ), it forms the family of rheas ( Rheidae ). The species is established in Germany as neozoon.


With a peak height from 1.25 to 1.40 meters ( back height about 1 meter ) and a weight of 20 to 25 kg of Nandu is the biggest bird in the New World. This concerns mainly the males, since, like the ostrich, the taps are on average even when Nandu slightly larger than the hens. Rheas have a loose, tattered -looking plumage and possess the largest wings of all ratites. The legs are long and strong, while the feet unlike ostriches have three toes. On the run, he reached speeds of up to 60 km / h

The plumage is gray or brown, between individuals of the color varies greatly. In general, males are slightly darker and larger than females, but this is not a reliable distinguishing feature. Albinos appear conspicuously frequently. The individual subspecies are distinguished primarily by the amounts of black feathers on the Halsbefiederung.

Distribution and habitat

The distribution area extends from the Pampa, the grasslands in central Argentina and Uruguay, through the Gran Chaco to the Northeast of Brazil, the species is also established in Germany as neozoon.

Rheas inhabit savanna habitats, so lacking in forests. In contrast to Darwin Nandu of Nandu is an inhabitant of the plains, which avoids high altitudes. Similarly, the Nandu avoids cold climates and is no longer in front of south of the 40th parallel of latitude. The Nandu is " low risk", according to IUCN.


Five subspecies are recognized. They are difficult to tell apart; especially the black coloration of the throat, which is pronounced differently at all, is regarded as identification feature.

  • Rhea americana americana, Brazil
  • Rhea americana intermedia, Uruguay and adjacent Brazil
  • Rhea americana nobilis, eastern Paraguay
  • Rhea americana araneipes, western Paraguay, eastern Bolivia, Brazil adjacent
  • Rhea americana albescens, new: Rhea americana var Albinea Northern Argentina

Way of life

In many ways, the great Nandu little from Darwin Nandu is different. The way of life of both species is therefore described in detail in the article rheas.

Rheas as invasive species

In 2000, several rheas escaped from a free range in Schleswig -Holstein, near the border to Mecklenburg- Vorpommern, who moved from there into the district North West Mecklenburg and there in the valley of the Wakenitzrestaurant, in the space between Schattin and Mr. Castle, and observed further south in Utecht were. As early as 2001 there was an unsuccessful breeding attempt and the demonstration of a successful breeding by the observation of a male with 14 chicks, more successful broods were 2002 (1 ), 2003 ( at least 3 ) and 2004 ( at least 5 ) documented. In 2002 were in the lowland Wakenitzrestaurant already 11 rheas be detected, in 2004 it was in the room Schattin - Utecht - Duvennest already 20 By August 2009, the portfolio had grown to about 80 animals, in March 2011 it went from a stock of more than 100 copies from. 2012 yet 129 animals were counted.

The species is apparently quite adaptable, in Mecklenburg- Vorpommern inhabit rheas especially set-aside land with flat dry and semi- dry grasslands and pine forests, but were also observed on grassland, fields and deciduous forest. Search In winter the animals on rape fields and set-aside for food. Scrim findings to date have been in dry grass, forb communities, on cereals and canola fields and in the hardwood forest.

The evaluation of the Nandu as a breeding bird in Germany is very different even in conservation circles. Thus, the resolution of the stocks, so killing all rheas, required. This is justified by the precautionary principle, as the Nandu could prove to be invasive species. As invasive species such types are declared by the Federal Nature Conservation Act ( Federal Nature Conservation Act ) § 40, endanger the domestic ecosystems, habitats and species. The Nandu is attributed as a threat to ground-nesting birds and other soil fauna could not be ruled invasion potential. Other experts want to set the Nandu on the gray list. On the gray list are potentially invasive species are set to make this watch by the authorities. Previously expressed fears of a possible hazards to soil -nesting birds, reptiles and insects have so far not been confirmed by field research and stomach examinations. According to § 40 para 2 Federal Nature Conservation Act must be clarified before fighting measures only whether a species is actually invasive, so endangered native ecosystems, habitats and species.


" Nandu " is derived from Nandu Guasú ( Guasú large and Nandu spider in Guaraní ), since the Nandu in courtship pose resembles a large spider.