AskDefine | Define tinamou

The Collaborative Dictionary

Tinamou \Tin"a*mou\, n. [From the native name: cf. F. tinamous.] (Zool.) Any one of several species of South American birds belonging to Tinamus and allied genera. [1913 Webster] Note: In general appearance and habits they resemble grouse and partridges, but in anatomical characters they are allied to the ostriches and other struthious birds. Their wings are of moderate length, and they are able to fly a considerable distance. [1913 Webster]

Word Net

tinamou n : heavy-bodied small-winged South American game bird resembling a gallinaceous bird but related to the ratite birds [syn: partridge]



  1. Any of the birds belonging to a rare South-American wingless bird family (Tinamidae), the only family in the order (Tinamiformes). They are related to the ratites with which they form the Paleognathae superorder.


The tinamous are one of the most ancient groups of bird, members of a South American bird family of about 47 species in 9 genera. Although they look similar to other ground-dwelling birds like quail and grouse, they have no close relatives and are classified as a single family Tinamidae within their own order, the Tinamiformes.
Of Gondwanan origin, they are distantly related to the ratites (order Struthioniformes), that includes the rheas, emu, and kiwi. Although the fossil record in South America is generally poor, the known tinamou fossil record goes back 10 million years.
Together with the ratites, they make up the Paleognathae, or “Old Jaws”, as distinct from the vast majority of modern birds in the Neognathae, or “New Jaws”.
There are 47 species of tinamou in South America and north to Mexico, occurring in a wide range of habitats. They eat a variety of food including insects and berries. The smallest species, the Dwarf Nothura, is about 42 g (1.4 oz) and 15 cm (6 in) long. The largest tinamou, the Gray Tinamou, weighs 1.6 kg (3.6 lb) and measures up to 50 cm (20 in) long.
Tinamous are rarely seen, but often heard within their range. Most inhabit the tropical lowlands of South America, typically in dark, dense forest, but some species range as far north as Mexico and occur in a wide range of habitats. Although some species are quite common, they are shy and secretive. A small number of species live in more open, grassy country, but even these are wary. Tinamous lay several eggs which are attractively coloured and have a hard gloss like porcelain. The young are precocial, and can run almost as soon as they hatch.

Species in taxonomic order

External links

tinamou in Bulgarian: Тинамуподобни
tinamou in Czech: Tinamy
tinamou in Danish: Tinamuer
tinamou in German: Steißhühner
tinamou in Spanish: Tinamiformes
tinamou in Esperanto: Tinamo
tinamou in French: Tinamiformes
tinamou in Croatian: Tinamuovke
tinamou in Italian: Tinamiformes
tinamou in Hebrew: טינמאים
tinamou in Georgian: ტინამუსნაირნი
tinamou in Lithuanian: Tinaminiai
tinamou in Hungarian: Tinamufélék
tinamou in Dutch: Tinamoes
tinamou in Japanese: シギダチョウ目
tinamou in Polish: Kusacze
tinamou in Portuguese: Tinamiformes
tinamou in Romanian: Tinamiformes
tinamou in Quechua: Yuthu
tinamou in Russian: Скрытохвостые
tinamou in Slovak: Tinamotvaré
tinamou in Slovenian: Dolgonoge kure
tinamou in Finnish: Tinamit
tinamou in Swedish: Stubbstjärthöns
tinamou in Ukrainian: Схованохвости
tinamou in Chinese: 䳍形目
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