our animals

Red legged seriema

Cariama cristata

Seriemas are the last remaining descendants of giant carnivorous flightless birds that lived in South America more than 60 million years ago. Seriemas are among the largest ground-dwelling birds in South America. They rarely take flight, preferring to walk in search of food. With a hawk-like head; a small, hooked bill; and the ability to kill snakes, lizards, and rodents, they resemble raptors. Seriemas will even take on venomous coral snakes. They grasp prey with their bills and dash it against a rock or the ground to dispatch it. This also helps to break down bones and shred prey into bite-sized chunks.

Seriemas are known for their loud calls, which can be heard over a mile away. The sound is described as high-pitched yelps resembling the yaps of a puppy. Mating pairs usually vocalize in the early morning hours to announce their territory. One member of the pair starts the song, and the other answers in a kind of duet. Other pairs nearby may respond.

Seriemas will run to escape predators, reaching speeds greater than 40 miles per hour. If necessary, they will fly to a higher perch.

Red Legged seriema

fun facts

Conservation Status:

Least concern


South America


Grassland, savannahs, scrubland


Small insects, mammals, snakes, grasses, seeds





Incubation period:

24-30 days

Life Span:

20-30 yrs