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Book 3: Chapter 2 – Flightless Birds

1.  Rhea is either of two ostrich-like species of South American three-toed flightless bird. The common rhea is about 4 ft tall and weighs about 20 kg. It has luxuriant plumage, brown or gray above and whitish below. Darwin’s rhea is smaller and has white-tipped brownish plumage. Rheas live in open country, often among grazing animals and run from predators. They eat a wide variety of plants and animals. Both species are listed as endangered.

2.  Cassowary is a flightless bird. It is found in Australia. It has been known to kill humans with slashing blows of its feet, which have long, dagger-like nails on the innermost toe. It has a naked blue head protected by a bony helmet and a black body, though immature birds are brownish. It moves rapidly along narrow tracks in the bush. Cassowaries eat fruits and small animals. The largest species of the cassowaries is almost 5 ft tall.

3.     Ostrich is a two-toed, long-necked flightless bird. It is found in Africa. It is the largest living bird. An adult male ostrich may be 8 ft tall and weigh up to 155 kg. Males are black, with white wings and tail plumes; females are brown. Ostriches live in flocks of 5 to 50, usually among grazing animals.

4.     Kiwi is any of three species of chicken-sized, grayish brown flightless bird. It is found in New Zealand. Their Maori name refers to the male’s shrill call. Kiwis have vestigial wings, hidden with the plumage; nostrils at the tip of the long flexible bill; soft, hair-like feather; and stout, muscular legs. Each of the four toes has a large claw. Kiwis live in forests, where they sleep by day and forage for worms, insects and their larvae and berries at night. They run swiftly and use their claws in defense when cornered.  

5.     Penguin is any of 18 species of flightless sea-birds that breed mainly on islands and on cool coasts of Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South America. Different species of penguins differ mainly in size and head pattern; all have a dark back and a white belly. The smallest species, the little blue penguin is about 16 in tall; the largest, the emperor penguin is almost 4 ft tall. At sea for weeks at a time, flocks feed on fish, squid and crustaceans.

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