Red-legged Seriema

The Red-legged Seriema or Crested Cariama (Cariama cristata) is a species of bird found from Brazil south of the Amazon to Uruguay and northern Argentina. The area over which this species occurs is estimated at 3.6 million square miles. The bird is not found everywhere throughout this region, and is totally absent from the
Mata Atlântica and planalto uplands along the coast of Brazil. Its habitat is grasslands, and occasionally lush meadows near rivers, though it will not readily move into wetlands or crop fields.

The adult is 30 to 36 inches in length with a fairly long neck, tail, and legs. Its plumage is medium brown above with black markings, pale brown on the head, neck and breast, and white on the belly. The tail has a black band near the tip and a white tip. The beak and legs are red, and the eyes are yellow. A fan-shaped crest is formed at the base of the bill. The song of this bird is described as a cross between the bark of a young dog and the clucking of turkeys. At the peak of its song, the bird has its neck bent backward so its head is touching its back. Both sexes and juveniles as young as two weeks sing. Often, one member of a family group starts a song just as another finishes, or two may sing simultaneously. The song can be heard several miles away.

These birds are often seen singly or in pairs, and sometimes in groups up to four. They normally are seen walking on the ground and can easily run faster than a human in its habitat. It will flee a car on foot at speeds up to 15 mph before flying away. This species nests either on the ground, or in bushes and trees up to ten feet above ground. This species has been known to attack humans, especially during nesting season.

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