Red-legged seriema

Did someone say birds don’t participate in marathons? Wait, we have a worthy contestant here

Olaf Oliviero Riemer

Red-legged seriema


Did someone say birds don’t participate in marathons? Wait, we have a worthy contestant here


The Red-legged seriema, with its elegant stature and charismatic demeanor, is a sight to behold in the open grasslands of South America. Known for its distinctive long, red legs and richly colored plumage, the Red-legged Seriema embodies grace and efficiency in its natural habitat.

The bird’s plumage is predominantly a shade of brown with subtle variations that provide camouflage in the dry grasslands and scrub forests it frequents. The sleek feathers lie flat against the body, with a unique fan-shaped crest adorning the top of its head, which can be raised or lowered. This crest and its long, slender neck give the seriema a regal appearance.

While they may be able to fly, red-legged seriemas are predominantly terrestrial and are more likely to run than take to the air when threatened or in pursuit of prey. Their long legs are not just for show; they enable the birds to reach speeds of up to 25 kilometers per hour (15 miles per hour), which, alongside their agility, makes them formidable runners on the ground. These adaptations make them successful predators, capable of catching a variety of prey, including insects, lizards, snakes, and small rodents.

Farmers often appreciate the presence of Seriemas, as these birds help control pest populations, thereby protecting crops and even poultry from various ground-dwelling threats. The Red-legged Seriema uses its strong legs to kill prey by beating it against a hard surface or throwing it up in the air before consumption.

Another notable characteristic of the Red-legged Seriema is its vocalization. The calls are loud and can carry over several kilometers, a feature that is especially prominent during their morning and evening calls. These vocal displays serve multiple purposes, including territory establishment, mate attraction, and communication between pairs or family groups.


Population est.

Did you know?

  • The researchers note that it is very uncommon for red-legged seriema to fledg three young. It is speculated that the third nestling is generally a reserved food for the other two in times of stress.
  • If the prey is too large to swallow whole, it will be ripped into smaller pieces with sickle claws and even bumped on the ground to break its bones.
  • Their high-pitched yelps resemble the yap of a puppy.
  • It can run faster than humans, with a speed of 65 km/h( 40 mph).

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Polygamous / Monogamous

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No