From across the forests and savannas, mountains, oceans, and skies of the world, welcome to a celebration of the animals that you know and love – it’s the …

It’s the largest living bird in the world and it’s perching here now – welcome the OSTRICH!

Male ostrich defending chicks in Tanzania. Image: Rhett A. Butler

Meanwhile, across town …

PSSST. Hey, over here. It’s great that we celebrate the animals that we know and love, but they aren’t the only animals in the world.

Many of the popular animals have unfamous cousins that are just as cool as they are. Come meet these cousins at the …

Everybody knows that ostriches can’t fly. They belong to a group of non-flying birds called ratites that includes their cousins the emus, rheas, cassowaries, and kiwis. 

Meet a ratite you may not know, the GREAT TINAMOU:

Patrick Coin, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Why is the great tinamou as cool as the ostrich?

There are 47 species of tinamous. The great tinamou is the largest species. All tinamous are ratites, and unlike their much better known cousins, they can fly. Scientists think that tinamous resemble what the ancestors of ostriches looked like before they lost the ability to fly. 

The great tinamou is roughly the size of a chicken. It lays eggs that are a deep shade of green. If you want colorful Easter eggs that don’t need to be dyed, they are the birds to talk to!

Indigenous man holding tinamou eggs. Image: Rhett A. Butler

Why is the great tinamou not as famous as the ostrich?

Tinamous do not draw much attention to themselves. They are drab brown birds. All 47 tinamou species live in Mexico, Central America, or South America. Their drab brown color helps them hide in the bushy vegetation in which they live.

People hunt some species of tinamou, but most of the world has not yet discovered that some ratite species can fly. OOPS. Now the secret is out …

By David Brown