August 1, 2021
Happy Birthday, Dear Serri!
- as seen by -Natalia Hook
Every species of bird is unique, but some can be misidentified due to confusing field marks, or calls that are challenging to differentiate. Then, there are the birds that are so singular in appearance, and so inimitable in vocalization, that there can be no error in identifying them. One of these particularly striking species is the red-legged seriema, Cariama cristata.
Native to South America, the red-legged seriema is one of only two species belonging to the family Cariamidae, the other being the smaller, uncrested black-legged seriema. The red-legged primarily inhabits dry woodlands and savannah in Argentina, Uraguay, Paraguay, and southern Brazil. It stands at about two feet tall, and has long, reddish orange legs and a loose, fan-like crest over a similarly colored bill. Although it is not hard to spot, the most attention grabbing thing about this bird is undoubtedly its call. The loud yelping, or “barking” vocals of the red-legged seriema can travel over a mile at volumes between 80 and 100 decibels, and are often used by the birds to establish territories and strengthen pair bonds.
Here at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, our male red-legged seriema lives at the Pheasantry, regaling guests with his grand vocals at random times throughout the day. You never know when you may be lucky enough to hear him, but you will certainly be glad that he is outdoors when you do.
“Serri” is a keeper favorite, and will be turning 37 years old on August 1. He enjoys dust bathing and sunning in his yard, hunting small lizards and insects, and being misted with the hose. One of his favorite foods is mice, and at times, he can be seen engaging in the natural behavior of striking mice and other food items against the ground before eating them.
He may be a senior bird, but when it comes to chowing down and sounding off, he has certainly still got it. Happy birthday, dear Serri!