Rhea, a flightless, ostrichlike bird found from northern Brazil to southern Argentina; it is the largest bird of the New World. There are two species—the greater, or common, rhea and the lesser, or Darwin's, rhea. Typically, the greater rhea is five feet (1.5 m) in height and weighs 55 pounds (25 kg); the lesser rhea is 3 feet (91 cm) in height and weighs 22 pounds (10 kg).

The rheaThe rhea is a large flightless bird native to South America.

Rheas gather in flocks of up to 30 birds. They feed on roots, leaves, and small animals. During the breeding season the males emit a loud, bellowing call and fight each other for the females. Each male mates with two or more females. The females of each male lay golden-yellow eggs, about a dozen apiece, in the same nest, a shallow depression in the ground. The male incubates the eggs and cares for the young.

Rheas are hunted for their feathers and for food. Many rheas have been killed by farmers because rheas eat many kinds of crops. For these reasons, rheas are threatened with extinction.

Rheas belong to the family Rheidae. The greater rhea is Rhea americana; the lesser rhea is Pterocnemia pennata.

Are There Ostriches in South America?

No, but flightless birds called rheas live in South America. Although rheas and ostriches live thousands of miles apart, they look a lot alike. In fact, they look so much alike that rheas are often called South American ostriches.

Still, there are some differences in their looks. Rheas are smaller than ostriches. The largest kind of rhea stands about 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall and weighs about 50 pounds (23 kilograms). Rheas have three toes on each foot, while ostriches have only two. Rheas have feathers on their necks and heads, but ostriches do not.

Rheas live in flocks of 5 to 30 birds on open grasslands. Rheas feed on leaves, roots, and insects.