The Greater Rhea in the Wild of Northern Germany

The greater rhea is a South American flightless bird. In 2000 a male and some females escapes a farm in northern Germany and since then lived in the wild. From a handful of birds they became a large group of around 500 animals by now.

It’s a year I know about the great rheas in that area after a friend of mine told me and I actually saw them. I had no camera with me at that time so I always wanted to come back and look for them, with my camera this time.

The greater rhea is a huge ratite originally from eastern South America. He lives in open spaces like grassland or wetlands. He can become around 25 kg, 1.50 meter high and can live more than 10 years in the wild. The male is distinguishable as he is slightly bigger than his harem. He looks a little bit like a smaller version of an ostrich in grey.

In Germany they were brought in during the nineties. In 2000 from a farm in Groß Grönau in the Lauenburg area a smart male escaped with five females and established the whole group in the open surroundings. They survived all during the winter and succeeded in breeding the following year. The population is growing, though the farmers are allowed to destroy the eggs to not let them become a pest for their crops. I learnt they mainly nest in the fields only, without eating the crops. There are no real predators here. The birds are a near threatened species. In Germany the groups are protected and even help to maintain the habitat diversity.

We saw them in two different places. First near the Schalsee, a biosphere reserve and very recommended for nature walks. The little town of Zarrentin on its southern banks is beautiful and offers also a walk in the cloister.

A very funny rhea we discovered in a rape field. We stopped just to shoot the yellow field when a greater rhea started to ‘play picke-doo’. I was curious why the bird was acting so funny and walked into the rape field. It was a male nesting. He was not shy and got up off the nest only when I arrived near to him. I respected the ‘social-distancing’ we are now required and just said hello before leaving. He made my day with the photo and allowing me so near to the nest.

Let’s go and see them!

Be sociable, tell others!
This entry was posted in Europe, Germany, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, ON TRAVEL, Schleswig-Holstein and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Greater Rhea in the Wild of Northern Germany

  1. Lu says:

    How amazing. Who would have guessed that Rheas could be found successfully living wild in Germany. The last picture in the Rape field is excellent. And you were even able to take a picture of the eggs in their nest. Quite a coup for you.

  2. Rodrigo C Coke says:

    It was not a female my friend. These birds are different from the rest, is the male the one that takes care of the eggs and the chicks… The male builds the nest and all the females from the harem lay their eggs in the same nest, then the male takes care to incubate the eggs and takes care of the babies also call Charo or Charito

    • crumbs on travel says:

      Hi Rodrigo, that is interesting, I must have over-read that. Thank you so much for that information, I learnt something more! I like that way of taking care of the children 😀

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