Red-Legged Seriema

Red-Legged Seriema Cariama cristata

Type of Animal:

Grasslands, scrub, grassy savanna, recently burned areas, semi-open/open semidry/dry savanna, woodland, semi-open semidry/dry ranchland, caatinga, cerrado, chaco, lush meadows near rivers, open forest, brushland, forest edge, can be found as high as 6,600 ft above sea level

C & E Brazil, Paraguay, E Bolivia, N & E Uruguay, & N & C Argentina

Tall grayish to grayish-brown bird w/ fan-shaped crest, red beak, long red legs, long neck, long broad outer tail w/ black band/white tip

Insects, insect larvae, spiders, worms, small mammals, birds, lizards, snakes (including venomous species), amphibians, baby tortoises, eggs, seeds, fruit, corn, beans, grains, tree sap, tree gum

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos & wildlife centers

Monogamous pairs

Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Pair

Adult: 3.25 lbs
Young: 0.6-0.7 lbs

1 month

Life Span:
20-30 years in wild, 30-40 years in captivity

2.45-3 ft

Body Length:
2.45-3 ft

Tail Length:
1-1.3 ft

Main predators are felids, canids, large raptors, & large snakes.

These birds slam prey to ground or on hard surfaces. They’ll use sharp sickle-like claw on 2nd toe to tear larger prey.

Seriemas breed during rainy periods. 

During breeding season, males display, showing off flight feathers & strutting in front of mate.

These birds make loud, high-pitched yelps to mark territory. They also give alarm cries.

Typically nest on low trees or bushes. They prefer to hop rather than fly.

Females lay 1-4 eggs.

Chicks fledge at 2-4 weeks old & stay w/ parents for 2-4 months. Maturity reached at 4 months.

These birds love to sunbathe & dust-bathe. They sometimes lie motionless on their side.

Fun Fact(s):
These birds prefer to run rather than fly. They can run at speeds of up to 40 mph. These birds only fly to escape predators/reach perches.

Electronic music duo Boards of Canada sampled seriema song on track “Happy Cycling” on 1998 album Music Has the Right to Children, which was taken from electronic composer Vangelis’ 1976 soundtrack album La Fete Sauvage.

Farmers sometimes use these birds as guard animals to protect poultry from predators/intruders.

1 of only 2 species in order Cariamiformes (the other being the black-legged seriema).

These birds believed to be closest living relatives of the prehistoric terror birds or Phorusrhacids.

Despite their intimidating appearance, these birds are rather wary. In captivity, they’re often quite tractable. Breeding/nesting pairs can sometimes be testy.

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