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.
Grassland, savannahs, scrubland
Small insects, mammals, snakes, grasses, seeds