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Great tinamou

Tinamus major

Description: The Great tinamou is a heavy ground bird whose plumage ranges from dark olive-brown to light brown. They have a white throat; grayish brown breast; a cinnamon-buff face with large dark brown eyes; flanks barred black and bluish-gray legs. Their coloring offers them excellent camouflage as they roam the understory.

Size: They grow to about 17 inches (43 cm) long and can weigh as much as 2.4 pounds (1.1 kg).

Behavior: Great tinamous are solitary except during mating season. At night individuals roost on a branch above the ground. They are poor flyers and will only fly for a short distance when alarmed. Also, when threatened or frightened they may stand motionless or beat their wings making loud sounds.

Diet: Their diet consists mainly of berries, fruits and seeds, but they will also eat small animals.

Communication: The powerful mournful song of three short, piping notes can be heard usually at dawn and dusk.

Reproduction: After mating, the female lays an average of four large turquoise eggs in the ground leaf litter nest that is between tree buttresses. The eggs are incubated by the male until they hatch and once hatched, he cares for the chicks for about another three weeks and then he seeks out another female to mate again. While the male is caring for the chicks, the female moves on and lays clutches of eggs with other males. She may nest with as many as five or six males during the breeding season. This reproductive behavior is called polyandry. In this species, all parental care is given by the males.

Habitat/range: This species inhabits dense rainforests that seasonally flood or do not flood at all from southeastern Mexico, through Central America to eastern Bolivia and Amazonian Brazil.

Status: Listed as Near Threatened on IUCN Red List.