The red-legged seriema lives in South America mostly in grassland habitat. Males are slightly larger than females, but otherwise the sexes look alike. Their crest is formed by permanently raised, slightly stiff feathers at the base of the bill and they have beautiful blue skin around the eyes. Seriemas have three very sharp, short front toes and a raised, smaller rear toe which enables them to run quickly to escape from predators. They can only fly for short distances, so their primary method of escape is to run. The seriema’s call is unusual and typically described as a “yelping dog.” It can be heard over a mile away and is usually produced in the early morning hours in defense of a mating pair’s territory. One member of the pair will usually start the song while the other answers in a sort of duet.
Though considered omnivores, seriemas prefer insects like grasshoppers and beetles, along with small rodents, birds, lizards, snakes, and frogs. They will also eat seeds, fruits, and crops.
The male’s courtship display consists of strutting before the female, stretching out his flight feathers and lowering his head to show his crest. Seriemas are thought to mate for life and both participate in nest building (which usually takes them about a month). Two eggs are usually laid and the responsibility of incubation is also shared by both parents.
Although humans are interfering with red-legged seriema habitat through agricultural and water developments, seriemas seem to be adapting to the changes and are a species of least concern according to the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).