Like other tinamous, the red-winged tinamou spends most of its time on the ground, preferring to freeze or run rather than fly when threatened. The rounded wings are relatively small, and flight can only be kept up for a short distance (2) (4) (8). Reported to be most active in the heat of the day, the red-winged tinamou feeds on a wide variety of both plant and animal matter, including fruits, seeds, shoots, roots, tubers, insects, worms and even small vertebrates. The diet varies seasonally, comprising mainly animal matter in the summer and vegetable matter in the winter when insects are scarce. The long beak is used to scratch at the ground and sweep away soil to uncover food, and the red-winged tinamou may even jump almost a metre in the air to pick insects from vegetation (2) (4).
The breeding season is thought to vary with location, occurring from August to January in Brazil. The nest is a slight depression in the ground, excavated with the feet and lined with grass (2) (4). Unusually for a bird, it is the male tinamou that incubates the eggs and cares for the chicks. After laying up to five wine red, reddish purple or sometimes white eggs in the nest, the female red-winged tinamou leaves, and is likely to mate with further males and lay further clutches in different nests (2) (4) (8). More than one female may lay eggs in a single nest, and the male red-winged tinamou incubates the eggs for around 19 to 21 days (2) (4). If leaving the nest for any period, the male may cover the eggs with feathers (4). Young red-winged tinamous have red and white down, with black streaking, but reach adult-like plumage within about three weeks (2).