Darwin's Rhea

rhea
rhea  

From Puerto Natales we took a bus down to Punta Arenas. We rented a car and began driving back up into the real Patagonia.

The word Patagonia has two different meanings. In general terms it is used to refer to the southern end of Chile and Argentina. It covers the Magellanic islands, the southern tip of the Andes, as well as the steppe regions to the east of the Andes. The more restricted use of the word Patagonia is to use it in reference to the grass covered steppe areas.

One of the more conspicuous inhabitants of these steppes is the Darwin's Rhea (Pterocnemia pennata), a large - a bit more than 3 ft high at the shoulder - and flightless bird. They avoided natural predators by running, at speeds up to 40mph. Unfortunately this strategy doesn't work very well against bullets and they are currently considered a threatened species.

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