Family Rheas (Rheidae)

Near Threatened

Puna Rhea (Rhea tarapacensis)


French: Nandou de la puna German: Punanandu Spanish: Ñandú de la puna

Pterocnemia tarapacensis

C. Chubb

, 1913,

Canchosa, Tarapacá, Chile


Previously placed in genus Pterocnemia, on basis mainly of tarsal scutellation and feathered upper tarsus, but genetic studies reveal close relationship with R. americana, and probably more aptly considered congeneric#R#R. Normally considered conspecific with lowland R. pennata, but#R#R differs in having only 8–10 tarsal scutes (3), shorter legs (allow 2), browner upperparts (1) and denser white spots near front edge of “skirt” (1); appears also to intergrade or to be parapatric with R. pennata in Mendoza province, Argentina (possible score 2 or 3), but on other hand plumage variable with age and breeding condition#R; more research needed. Races somewhat variable, and garleppi may not be reliably separable#R#R. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • R. t. garleppi#R (C. Chubb, 1913) – S Peru (Moquegua and W Puno) through W Bolivia to NW Argentina (Jujuy S to San Juan).
  • R. t. tarapacensis#R (C. Chubb, 1913) – N Chile (Arica S to Atacama).
  • Descriptive notes

    92·5–100 cm; 15–25 kg. Feathering covers thighs and top of tarsi (in front). Male (2+) similar to Lesser Rhea but greyer, especially on head and neck, and... read more


    Low roaring sound by male during breeding.


    Inhabits desertic salt puna, pumice flats, upland bogs and tola (Lepidophyllum) heath in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous. Mainly consumes plant matter, including leaves, fruits and of grasses and forbs, notably Stipa sp.; also small animals... read more


    No specific information. Breeding behaviour similar to Lesser Rhea. 



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. CITES I. Uncommon; has declined markedly. The total population has previously been estimated to be as low as... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Puna Rhea (Rhea tarapacensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 May 2019).