Red-legged Seriema

Cariama cristata

The Red-legged Seriema or Crested Cariama (Cariama cristata) is a mostly predatory terrestrial bird in the seriema family (Cariamidae), included in the "Gruiformes" in the old paraphyletic circumscription, but increasingly placed in a distinct order Cariamiformes (along with three extinct families). The Red-legged Seriema inhabits grasslands from Brazil south of the Amazon to Uruguay and northern Argentina. The area over which it occurs is estimated at 5.9 million km², though the bird is not found everywhere in this region of course. The species is absent from the Mata Atlântica and planalto uplands along the coast of Brazil.

It is 75 to 90 cm (30 to 36 in) long and weighs about 1.5 kg, with a fairly long neck, tail, and legs. The 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. Soft feathers emerge from the base of the bill to form a fan-shaped crest.

Many other characteristics are shared with the Black-legged Seriema (Chunga burmeisteri), the only other living member of its family. Some of these traits are discussed in the Cariamidae article.

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