The Red-legged Seriema is one of South America's largest terrestrial birds. While it can fly short distances, it prefers to run on its long, powerful legs rather than use its short, stumpy wings. This two week old chick was hatched at SeaWorld Orlando on April 30. The current Seriema population in U.S. zoos is only 62, and the last bird was hatched in 2009, so each hatchling is precious to the population.
SeaWorld Orlando's resident bird expert, Sherry Rodriguez, has been hand-raising the chick and it’s doing very well (see photo at bottom). This is a huge commitment -- she takes it home every night for round-the-clock feedings and even uses a feather duster in its brooder (incubator) to simulate the mother bird’s feathers.
The central habitat of the Red-legged Seriema is in the grassy, savanna-like cerrados of central Brazil. The species is also found farther south in the grasslands and woodland subtropical areas in southern Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. The diet of the Seriema is largely animal food, specifically insects, such as grasshoppers, beetles, and spiders but they also enjoy small invertebrates such as lizards, frogs and snakes. Fruits, seeds and leaves are also consumed but are a very small percentage of their diet.