Dwarf Tinamou (Taoniscus nanus)

Dwarf Tinamou

[order] TINAMIFORMES | [family] Tinamidae | [latin] Taoniscus nanus | [authority] Temminck, 1815 | [UK] Dwarf Tinamou | [FR] Tinamou carape | [DE] Pfauen-Steisshuhn | [ES] Tinamu Enano | [NL] Dwergtinamoe


Monotypic species


Tinamous are paleognaths related to the flightless ratites. They are probably close in appearance to the flying ancestors of the ratites. Unlike other Ratites, Tinamous can fly, although in general, they are not strong fliers. The Dwarf Tinamou is the only member of the genus Taoniscus and is a monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Plump, but minute, short-legged tinamou. Generally pale buffy-brown with some barring and streaking. Dark centre of crown. Breast and sides of belly pale buff with irregular dark barring. Pale throat, buffy centre of belly. Female more boldly marked and darker, with whiter belly. Different plumage morphs may occur. Similar spp. Lesser Nothura Nothura minor is larger, longer-necked and more heavily barred. Voice High-pitched and nasal, cricket-like trill followed by peet notes

Listen to the sound of Dwarf Tinamou

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/TINAMIFORMES/Tinamidae/sounds/Dwarf Tinamou.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 13 cm size max.: 16 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


South America : Southeast Brazil, Northeast Argentina. Taoniscus nanus is currently restricted to the Cerrado region of central and south-east Brazil in Distrito Federal, Goias, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso do Sul, Sao Paulo and formerly Parana. The type-specimen was collected in Misiones, Paraguay, and two specimens were taken in Argentina (one in 1901 and the other, possibly in the same year, from near the rio Bermejo in either Chaco or Formosa), but there have been no further records from either country. There are historical reports of small flocks, but the few recent records are from scattered areas and have mostly involved singles or pairs. However, up to four calling birds have been found in circa 2ha and, with knowledge of its voice, it may prove to be more widespread.


Secondary forest, cerrado and savanna. It inhabits ‘campo limpo’ grasslands with scattered shrubs, including scrubby fields or campo sujo. The specimens from Paraguay and Argentina were collected in scrub grasslands.


A pair in captivity laid three eggs. In the wild they breed september-october in Brazil.

Feeding habits

It has been reported taking invertebrate prey, including termites, and feeding on Graminae seeds.


An ongoing rapid reduction in available habitat has resulted in this species now having a small population and qualifying as Vulnerable.
High-quality cerrado grasslands are being rapidly destroyed by mechanised agriculture, intensive cattle-ranching, afforestation, invasive grasses, excessive use of pesticides and annual burning. By 1993, two-thirds of the Cerrado region had been heavily or moderately altered, with most of the destruction having occurred since 1950. Since the species can only cover c.50 m in flight, it is presumably susceptible to fast-moving fires, and is unlikely to disperse between isolated habitat fragments
Dwarf Tinamou status Vulnerable


Sedentary in all of its range, but not well known

Distribution map

Dwarf Tinamou distribution range map

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