The Little Tinamou (Crypturellus soui) is a frumpy looking ground-dwelling, bird that can be found in tropical rainforests throughout the tropics. Though ground dwelling this species, known as ‘Surima’ by the Makushi, can fly but are not strong fliers. The Little Tinamou found in Guyana is a subspecies. This subspecies can also be found in eastern Colombia, eastern and southern Venezuela, French Guiana, Suriname and north-eastern Brazil. The Little Tinamou favours the understory of tropical lowland forest, forest edge along rivers, lowland evergreen forest, secondary forest and lowland shrub lands.
The Little Tinamou is a small bird with muted colouring that helps it blend into its habitat. The upper parts are a seal brown colour tending to amber towards the tail. The chin and upper throat are whitish while the lower throat, sides of neck and upper chest are a greyish brown. The belly is a cinnamon brown colour. The Little Tinamou has a very short almost non-existent tail. The legs and feet are a yellowish grey colour.
The Little Tinamou spends most of its time on the forest floor, flying only when disturbed. The Little Tinamou is more often heard than seen. Tinamous are considered songless birds but are known for producing some of the most full-bodied notes that rival the most complex songs from a songbird. The species is known to call mainly early in the mornings and as evening sets in. They can sometimes be heard during the day in the still forest.
In Guyana, the Makushi say that the Little Tinamou breeds mainly in the months of February to March. They make their nests in thick patches of leaves, which they scatter to make a shallow indentation, under shrub or at the base of trees. It is believed that the species lay 4-5 pinkish coloured eggs which hatch within a fortnight. The chicks stay with the mother for another 2-3 weeks while they learn to feed and defend themselves.
The Little Tinamou is usually solitary. It feeds mainly on insects and worms, but its diet may include some fruit. It may be targeted by Forest Falcons, Opossums and Spectacled Owls. The meat is favoured by people. Throughout its range the species is abundant and is considered of Least Concern by the IUCN.
Rain forests are rich in biodiversity and are home to many different plants and animals as well as indigenous communities. Humans, even those who don’t live in the rain forest, rely on it for resources such as building materials (wood and lianas), medicine and fruits.
Rain forests also provide essential environmental services for life on earth; they create soil as well as prevent soil erosion, produce oxygen though photosynthesis, maintain clean water systems, and are a key defence against climate change.
The Iwokrama Rain Forest is 371,000 hectares, located in the heart of Guyana. Our mission is to develop strategies for conservation and sustainable development for local people in Guyana and the world at large. We are involved in timber, tourism and training. Come and visit us in the rain forest or at http://www .iwokrama.org.