The Cinereous Tinamou Crypturellus cinereus is a type of ground bird found in swamp and lowland forests in northern South America. Cinereous Tinamou's have been around for many centuries. They are part of the oldest families of the world today, and have fossils discovered dating back ten millions years. Their quick reflex plays a role in their ability to survive.
All tinamou are from the family Tinamidae, and in the larger scheme are also Ratites. Unlike other Ratites, Tinamous can fly, although in general, they are not strong fliers. All ratites evolved from prehistoric flying birds, and Tinamous are the closest living relative of these birds.
Crypturellus is formed from three Latin or Greek words. kruptos meaning covered or hidden, oura meaning tail, and ellus meaning diminutive. Therefore Crypturellus means small hidden tail.
The Cinereous Tinamou is a shy and secretive Tinamou. It is approximately 30 cm (12 in) in length. It is recognized by its smoky-grey with reddish-brown crown and nape. Its dark phase is uniformly in sooty brown color. The Cinereous Tinamou body is mainly grey with a brownish red nape and crown. Their color helps them blend with the environment making it harder for predators to detect them. The under parts of the bird are only slightly paler than the body, and the legs appear a dull orange. The females are generally slightly larger in size then the males.
The Cinereous Tinamou is specially known to be easy to hear, but very difficult to see. It has a loud distinctive whistle heard mainly at dawn and dusk. Their whistles have a unique pitch and last almost two seconds between each whistle. Their whistles are mostly heard at dawn and dusk, and are monosyllabic. The bird is very capable of projecting its voice to seem like it came from another direction so hearing them and finding their exact location is very difficult. The call between the males and females are similar yet still noticeably different to the human ear. The Cinereous Tinamou is diurnal. When they are frightened or surprised they usually run off very quickly. Their instincts have adapted to act quickly since they live their lives on the ground and have to flee quickly to avoid predators so they are rarely seen by humans. They have a tendency to walk or run rather than to fly. They are capable of flight, but it is unusual and short. While the Cinereous Tinamou may only be in flight for a short duration their flight is strong and direct. They tend to occur either alone or in pairs, and generally do not travel in groups.
The food habits of the Cinereous Tinamou depend on the season and habitat although they are mostly herbivorous. In the summer their diet consists of small fruits, seeds, and small invertebrates. Although in the winter time they usually eat a wide variety of seeds or berries collected on the ground. They are considered a benefit to the nature for insect pest because of their large insect consumption. Although when the Cinereous Tinamou is young it is more dependent on insects than when they become adults. The Cinereous Tinamou does not scratch for food, but instead they look under leaves or use their bill to dig.
The Cinereous Tinamou nest their eggs on the forest floor. They are also polygamous. The males will usually call out to attract the females. They lay about two eggs in season. These eggs appear salmon violet colored, and are considered very colorful. The young of cinereous tinamous are capable of moving around when they are hatched to the point that they can almost run as soon as they're hatched.
The Cinereous Tinamou lives in a lowland rainforest or swamp forest, up to 700 m (2,300 ft) altitude. They prefer to live near streams or thick swamp woods. Their preferred habitat is thick, dark, and dense.
This species is native to southern Colombia, southern Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana, northern and western Brazil, eastern Ecuador, eastern Peru, and northern Bolivia.
The IUCN classifies this Tinamou as Least Concern, with an occurrence range of 5,900,000 km2 (2,280,000 sq mi).