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15 Tinamou Facts You’ll Never Forget

Tinamou facts are all about a unique bird of the Tinamidae family.

If you would like to know about one of the most fascinating birds, the tinamou, then you're in luck! The tinamou is a ground-dwelling bird that belongs to the family Tinamidae. There are around 47 species of these birds, belonging to the order Tinamiformes and classified into nine genera. They are native to Mexico, Central America, and South America. These birds reside in tropical or sub-tropical rainforests, montane forests, and tropical savannas. Some of them also live in swamps and lowlands, like the Cinereous tinamou. Some of these birds like Ornate tinamou are found in high-altitude regions. Most of the species vary in size and coloration. They fly over a short duration and mostly reside on the ground.

Tinamous are usually promiscuous in nature having multiple partners throughout their lives. After mating, many females lay eggs on a single nest. The eggs are colorful and have a glossy appearance. The male incubates the eggs for 17-21 days. The chicks are precocial or well developed at birth and reach reproductive maturity at one year of age.  International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed Tinamou as species of Least Concern. A few of the species are considered to be endangered due to the destruction of their habitat, climate change, and illegal hunting.

Read on to know more about the tinamou birds. If you like this article, then do check out golden masked owl facts and green peafowl facts.

Tinamou Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a tinamou?

The tinamou is a species of ground-dwelling bird of the Tinamidae family. These birds, belonging to the order Tinamiformes, are classified into nine genera.

What class of animal does a tinamou belong to?

Tinamous belong to the class Aves of animals.

How many tinamous are there in the world?

The exact number of individuals present in the world is not known. However, some data is available for the individual population of some of the species of Tinamou, such as the black tinamou, whose population ranges from 1,900-4,400. The little tinamou's population ranges from 500,000-600,000.

Where does a tinamou live?

Tinamous are widely distributed in Mexico, Central America, and South America. They inhabit the Amazon Basin, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, and Patagonia in South America. They are also found in the Caribbean Islands. In Central America, they reside in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

What is a tinamou's habitat?

Tinamous are classified into two types, forest-dwelling birds and steppe birds, based on their habitats. The forest-dwelling tinamous generally reside in tropical and sub-tropical rainforests. They are also found in the Montane forest, located on the Andean slope. These regions experience a colder climate and comprise trees such as oak, ferns, maples, and rhododendrons. Puna grassland is common in the Montane forest. Steppe tinamous inhabit grassland plains in temperate regions. They are also found in the tropical savanna that comprises shrubs and grasses. A few tinamous also live in swamps and lowlands. These birds are found at an elevation up to 16,ooo ft (5000 m) above sea level.

Who do tinamous live with?

Tinamous either live alone or in pairs. Some among the many species can also found in groups.

How long does a tinamou live?

The lifespan of tinamous in the wild is not known. They live for almost 10 years in captivity.  

How do they reproduce?

Tinamous are generally polygamous, having multiple partners throughout their lives. However, there are exceptions in some species. Their breeding season usually occurs in the summer, but the ones living in the tropical areas breed all throughout the year. The males usually attract the females into the breeding ground through their calls and courtship displays. In some species, the females exhibit courtship displays. They usually build their nest on the ground in an open area. After mating, multiple females lay eggs in one nest. Their clutch size ranges from eight-16 eggs. The male incubates them for  17-21 days, while the female starts looking for other mates. The chicks are precocial, or well-developed, at birth. The male bird protects and guides the chicks until they reach reproductive maturity after one year.

What is their conservation status?

International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed many species of tinamou as of Least Concern. The destruction of their habitat, climate change, and illegal hunting are a few of the major threats encountered by tinamous, which have caused some among their species to be classified as Vulnerable, Endangered, and Near Threatened. The pale-browed tinamous, for example, are listed as Near Threatened, Taczanowski's tinamous are listed as Vulnerable and the Dwarf tinamous are listed as Endangered.

Tinamou Fun Facts

What do tinamous look like?

The bill of tinamou is slightly curved downward.

There are around 47 species of tinamou present in the world that vary in size, weight, and coloration. Females are usually larger than males. They have waterproof feathers, a slender neck, a downcurved bill, and a small head. The elegant crested tinamou is usually yellowish-brown in color with two white stripes on the two sides of their faces. The red-winged tinamou has a reddish-brown shade on the posterior side of its wings, a downcurved bill, and a black crown on its head. The juveniles of red-winged tinamous are usually duller in color. The solitary tinamou is brown in color with a yellowish head. The red-legged tinamou has a gray chest and yellowish-beige belly. The red-legged tinamou derives its name from the presence of unique rosy red-colored legs. Cinereous tinamous are brown or brownish-black in color with whitish heads. They have an eye ring and yellowish-orange legs. The ornate tinamou has prominent black spots on its head and neck with yellow or gray legs.

How cute are they?

Their cuteness usually stems from their appearance. The presence of barred wings, downcurved bills, the crown on their head, colorful plumage, and legs makes tinamous cute and attractive.

How do they communicate?

Tinamous communicate through a range of vocalizations. They often create a cacophony of sound through their calls. They usually make short contact calls to signal danger. They also have a distinct mating call during the breeding season.

How big is a tinamou?

Smaller species, like the dwarf tinamou, are around 6 in (15 cm) long, while larger species, like the great tinamou, are around 20 in (50 cm) long. They are smaller than the southern cassowary, which is 50- 67 in.

How fast can a tinamou fly?

The exact speed of tinamous in flight is not known. However, they fly with rapid wing beats over a short distance.

How much does a tinamou weigh?

Smaller species like dwarf tinamous (Taoniscus nanus) weigh around 5 oz (150 g), while larger species like great tinamous (Tinamus major) weigh around 4 lb (2 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male tinamous are commonly known as cocks and female tinamous are commonly known as hens.

What would you call a baby tinamou?

Baby tinamous are known as chicks.

What do they eat?

Most of the species of tinamou are omnivorous, while some among all the species can be herbivorous or carnivorous in nature. Their food includes seeds, buds, flowers, roots, shoots, and stems. They also prey on a variety of insects like ants, beetles, termites, and grasshoppers. Their diet also contains small amphibians and reptiles. Larger species even eat small mammals as well.

Are they dangerous?

No, tinamous are not considered to be dangerous. They are very shy and secretive in nature. They often run away, hide, or freeze when they sense danger. However, they are territorial while defending their nesting grounds during the breeding seasons.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, tinamous can make good pets. These attractive and exotic birds can be domesticated.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

Tinamous, belonging to the Tinamidae family, were introduced to parts of Europe and Canada in the 1900s.

These birds are related to ratites, a group of large flightless birds.

Why are tinamou eggs colorful?

One of the most unique features of these ground-dwelling birds is the colorful eggs they produce. The colors are mainly brown, purple, black, bluish-green, yellowish-green, and red. It is believed that female tinamous lay such colorful eggs to engage the male tinamous into incubating them, the females then search for other partners to mate with.

Are Tinamous endangered?

A few birds belonging to the Tinamidae family are considered to be endangered. The destruction of their habitat due to advancements in agriculture and industry, along with climate change is responsible for their decrease in number. These birds are also the victim of hunting in various parts of Central and South America. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the hunting of birds, like the elegant crested tinamou and the spotted nothura, took place in large numbers. These are the factors responsible for some species of tinamous being endangered.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the pygmy falcon and the blue and yellow macaw.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable tinamou coloring pages.

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