Black-legged seriema

Gear up to get your minds changed if you think all birds love flying

Ron Knight

A lesser-known but equally fascinating species compared to its red-legged relatives. These birds are endemic to South America, primarily inhabiting the Gran Chaco region, which spans from southeastern Bolivia through western Paraguay and northern Argentina. The Chaco ecosystem is characterized by vast thorny scrublands, savannahs, and grasslands, providing an ideal black-legged seriema habitat.

Sporting an overall greyish-ash plumage, black-legged seriemas blend seamlessly into the Chaco landscape. Their coloration offers excellent camouflage against the dry vegetation and soil, which is advantageous when stalking prey or evading predators. These birds exhibit a striking pattern on their flight feathers, which is often only visible when they open their wings; however, they are infrequent flyers, preferring to rely on their strong legs for transportation.

Indeed, the black-legged seriema’s running prowess is notable. They can sprint quickly across the grassy plains, using their speed to chase down prey or to flee from danger. When threatened, these birds will often opt to run rather than fly, darting into dense thickets where their agility gives them an edge.

Their diet is varied and includes a large portion of insects, especially beetles, which are abundant in their environment. The birds use their stout, hooked bills to capture and kill their prey, which can also include small vertebrates like lizards, snakes, and rodents. The sharp claws on their toes are not only useful for running but also play a role in subduing larger prey.

The black-legged seriema is also known for its vocal behavior. They have a distinctive call that can be described as a series of loud, yelping notes. These calls serve various functions, including communication between mates, signaling alarm, and establishing territorial boundaries.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Argentina
2016
Bolivia
2016
Paraguay
2016

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No