Tinamidae – Tinamous

Unlike the popular belief, tinamous can fly, though poorly and reluctantly, preferring to walk or run

Tinamous are closely related to other flightless birds such as ostriches, emus, and kiwis, although tinamous themselves are capable of short bursts of flight. They are largely confined to Latin America, ranging from Mexico to the southern tip of South America.

Tinamous are small to medium-sized ground birds, with the largest species reaching up to 53 centimeters (21 inches) in length. They possess strong legs for running and typically have a rounded body with a small head and neck. Their plumage is generally cryptic, with earthy tones such as browns, greys, and greens that provide excellent camouflage in their habitat, allowing them to blend into the forest floor or scrubland.

While tinamous are capable of flight, they are not adept fliers and prefer to stay on the ground, taking to the air only when necessary, such as to escape predators. They tend to rely more on their ability to run swiftly and their natural camouflage to avoid detection. Some species will roost in trees at night, which offers some protection from nocturnal predators.

Tinamous have a varied omnivorous diet that includes fruits, seeds, leaves, and insects. This diet plays a role in seed dispersal, contributing to the health of their ecosystems. They forage by scratching at the leaf litter on the forest floor, similar to domestic chickens.

One of the most interesting aspects of tinamous reproductive behavior is their mating system, which is unique among birds. They are polygynandrous, meaning both males and females may have multiple partners. Females lay large, glossy, and colorful eggs in ground nests, often created by the males. After laying, females may leave to find new mates and lay eggs in other nests, while the males take on the primary responsibility of incubating the eggs and raising the chicks.