The rheas are ratites (flightless birds, with unkeeled sterna) in the genus Rhea, native to South America. There are two existing species: the Greater or American Rhea and the Lesser or Darwin's Rhea. The genus name was given in 1752 by Paul Möhring and adopted as the English common name. Möhring's reason for choosing this name, from the Rhea of classical mythology, is not known.
Individual and flocking
Rheas tend to be silent birds with the exception being when they are chicks or when the male is seeking a mate. During the non-breeding season they may form flocks of between 10 and 100 birds, although the lesser rhea forms smaller flocks than this. When in danger they flee in a zigzag course, utilizing first one wing then the other, similar to a rudder. During breeding season the flocks break up.
They are omnivorous and prefer to eat broad-leafed plants, but also eat seeds, roots, fruit, lizards, beetles, grasshoppers, and carrion.