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A Lesser Rhea (Rhea pennata) or Suri or Nandu (common Andean names) walks along Bolivia's southwestern Altiplano region known as the Sud Lipez. Rheas are large, flightless birds with gray-brown plumage, long legs and long necks, similar to an ostrich. The Lesser Rhea is somewhat smaller as their back is only 90 centimetres (35 in) tall. Their wings are large for a flightless bird (250 centimetres/(8.2 ft), and are spread while running, to act like sails. Unlike most birds, rheas have only three toes. Their tarsus has 18 to 22 horizontal plates on the front of it. They also store urine separately in an expansion of the cloaca. Rheas are from South America only and are limited within the continent to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay. They are grassland birds and both species prefer open land. The lesser Rhea will utilize most shrubland, grassland, even desert salt puna up to 4,500 metres/14,800 ft.
- © 2012 Sergio Ballivian - All Rights Reserved
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