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Cariamidae – Seriemas

Red-legged Seriema in Brazil: Photo by Carlos Sanchez

Cariamidae, represented by two solitary members, the seriemas, are large, ground-dwelling birds native to South America. These distinctive birds, resembling a mix between cranes and secretarybirds, inhabit open grasslands and scrublands, where they forage for small vertebrates and insects.

Overview of Cariamidae

While resembling cranes in their gait, the long-legged inhabitants of South American grasslands known as seriemas bear a closer resemblance to the Secretarybird. Unlike the Secretarybird, they lack long plumes on the nape but boast distinctive movable feathers between their bill and eyes, often used for communication through expressive ruffling. In areas free from persecution, seriemas exhibit surprising tameness, readily accepting cereal and table scraps alongside their usual diet of small animals. Their presence, especially when perched in their stick nests atop shrubby trees, is often accompanied by their far-reaching calls, capturing attention from afar.