Cariama cristata, Photo: Michael Lahanas
Cariama cristata Linnaeus, 1766
* Linnaeus 1766. Syst.Nat.ed.12 p.232
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 Cariamae (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.
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.
The song has a quality described as "a cross between 'the serrated bark of a young dog and the clucking of turkeys'". At the loudest part of the song, the bird has its neck bent so its head is touching its back. Both members of a pair as well as young down to the age of two weeks sing; often one member of a family starts a song just as another finishes, or two sing simultaneously. The song can be heard several kilometres away; in Emas National Park, Brazil, in 1981–1982, observers often heard four Red-legged Seriemas or groups singing at once.
The full song consists of three sections:
1. Repeated single notes at constant pitch (1,200 to 1,300 Hz) and duration but increasing tempo
In one conflict between two birds, they jumped at each other feet-first, keeping their balance by flapping.
This species nests on the ground or in a bush or tree up to 3 m above the ground. In the latter case adults jump into the nest rather than fly.
1. ^ BLI (2008), Bencke (2007)
* Accordi, Iury Almeida & Barcellos, André (2006): Composição da avifauna em oito áreas úmidas da Bacia Hidrográfica do Lago Guaíba, Rio Grande do Sul [Bird composition and conservation in eight wetlands of the hidrographic basin of Guaíba lake, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil]. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 14(2): 101-115 [Portuguese with English abstract]. PDf fulltext
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