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This feisty, long-legged South American bird is thought to be related to the crane, but its exact origins are still disputed. In both shape and behaviour, the red-legged seriema resembles the African secretary bird.  It has a very violent way of killing large prey, such as lizards and rodents, picking them up in its bill and repeatedly throwing them at the ground until stunned or dead.

The red-legged seriema also has a very distinctive call that can travel over a mile and is one of the most characteristic sounds of the South American grasslands where it lives. Although the seriema can fly short distances, it prefers to run from predators, but may also lie down if threatened, relying on its neutral colouring to camouflage it.

The main threat to these birds is conflict with farmers, who often kill them to prevent them eating crops. However, they have also been tamed by farmers and used to guard livestock from predators like foxes!

Conservation status | Least concern

Fact Sheet

Scientific name

Cariama cristata






20 to 25 years in captivity

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