The Great Tinamous form a family comprising 47 species of birds found in Central and South America. They are one of the most ancient living groups of birds, and are related to the ratites. They belong to the family Tinamidae which consists of about 47 species. Their size range vary from the Dwarf Tinamou at 15 cm (6 in) and 42 grams (1.5 oz) to the Gray Tinamou at 48 cm (17 in) and 1.6 kg (3.7 lbs). It would be realized that they look similar to other ground-dwelling birds like quail and grouse. The reason for the characters they share is as a result of convergence and plesiomorphy rather than shared evolutionary innovations. Interestingly, they have no closer living relatives than the flightless ratites, and hence, are placed in their own order, Tinamiformes.
These birds are usually slender and compact. They possess a small head and a short, slender bill that is downward curving. The Dwarf Tinamou is its smallest species while the Gray Tinamou happens to be the largest species. These birds possess very small wings, but unlike other ratites, they can fly, though poorly. Tinamous have three forward-facing toes and the fourth hind toe is higher and either retrogressed or absent. There is the presence of a short tail which is sometimes hidden behind coverts. It should be noted that some Tinamous have crests. They, unlike other ratites, have a preen gland. Though their Plumage does not usually differ between sexes, it happens that in a few species females are brighter.
They love to eat small fruits and seeds off the ground or of plants that are near the ground. In an attempt to reach their food, they can jump up to 10 cm (3.9 in). Buds, blossoms, tender leaves and roots, insects and their larvae, worms, and mollusks are also not left out of their list of delicacies. Usually, they would eat wholly small animals, while larger ones are beaten against the ground or pecked.
The females are fond of laying several eggs in a ground nest lined with grass and leaves, and the males do the incubation. The males do leave the nest to feed, and they may be gone from 45 minutes to 5 hours. Usually, when they leave to feed, the eggs are left uncovered, even though they are not camouflaged.