Red-legged Seriema

This feisty, long-legged South American bird is thought to be related to the crane, but its exact origins are still disputed.

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 behavior, 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 the seriema is conflict with farmers, who often kill them to prevent them from eating crops. However, they have also been tamed by farmers and used to guard livestock from predators like foxes!

Where are they found?
They are found in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina and prefer grasslands, meadows, rivers and streams.

Scientific name
Cariama cristata
Family
Cariamidae
Order
Cariamiformes
Lifespan
20 to 25 years in captivity
Fast facts
They can run at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour.
The seriema is one of the few birds to have eyelashes!
Also known as the crested seriema.
Conservation status
Least concern