Little Tinamou (Crypturellus soui)

Little Tinamou

[order] TINAMIFORMES | [family] Tinamidae | [latin] Crypturellus soui | [authority] Hermann, 1783 | [UK] Little Tinamou | [FR] Tinamou soui | [DE] Brauntinamu | [ES] Tinamu Chico | [NL] Kleine Tinamoe


Monotypic species


The tinamous of the genus Crypturellus are usually notoriously difficult to see. Most species of this family are polygamous, with the smaller males performing the domestic tasks and the eggs are beautifully coloured. Tinamous exhibit exclusive male parental care. This type of care is rarely found in birds and only in tinamous is present in all species of the order. In polygynandrous species, males accumulate eggs from several females in at least two different ways: in some species females form stable groups and cooperate to lay the clutch for a male, sometimes even laying replacement clutches together. In other species, multiple females lay eggs in a nest, but they
do not form associations or travel together before or after being attracted by the male.

Physical charateristics

The Little or Pileated Tinamou is a dull-colored, stout, shortwinged, almost tailless, terrestrial bird about 22 cm in length. In both sexes the top of the head is slaty black and the sides of the head are sooty grey. The upper parts are rich seal-brown, becoming umber on the tail coverts. The chin and upper throat are whitish, the lower throat, sides of the neck, and upper chest are deep greyish brown. The more lower back plumage is greyish tawny. The bill is blackish, the eyes are brownish yellow, and the legs and feet are greenish yellow.

Listen to the sound of Little Tinamou

[audio: Tinamou.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: cm wingspan max.: cm
size min.: 21 cm size max.: 24 cm
incubation min.: 16 days incubation max.: 20 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 20 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Latin America : South Mexico to East Brazil


It is found amid the bushy growth at the edge of the woodland, in the impenetrable thickets that promptly take possession of resting fields, in neglected pastures, and in weedy plantations, including those of coffee, bananas, and cassava. Fields of sugarcane that have long been left uncleaned offer it particularly favorable conditions. In this dense, concealing growth the Little Tinamou walks over the ground in such secrecy that it is rarely seen except by one who hides in its habitat.


Breeds all year around. Nest is a small scrap under a thick bush or a the foot of a tree, sometimes lined with some leaves. Clutch size is 1 to 4 eggs (usually 2), incubated for about 19 days.

Feeding habits

Mostly berries, fruit and seeds, but also insects (ants) and invertebrates are eaten. Feeds by walking forest ground, taking fruits and seeds, especially of
the Lauraceae, Annonaceae, Myrtaceae, and Sapotaceae.

Video Little Tinamou


copyright: R. Garrigues


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Nests are commonly observerd in Suriname, although behavior is not well documented as with most Tinamou.Found in both coastal region and the interior. It is hunted as a game bird, especially around towns, but has survived better than other game species. The great tinamou has various roles in native American folklore in Brazil, Colombia, and Panama.
Little Tinamou status Least Concern


Sedentary in all of its range, but not well known. Forms small groups outside breeding season.

Distribution map

Little Tinamou distribution range map


Title Life History of the Little Tinamou
Author(s): Alexander F. Skutch
Abstract: The Little or Pileated Tinamou (CryptureZZus so&) ..[more]..
Source: Condor: Vol. 65, No. 3

download full text (pdf)

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