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The Red-legged Seriema is commonly found in grasslands and open scrub of central and eastern Brazil, ranging from the eastern state Ceará to the western state of Mato Grosso and even into Eastern Bolivia. Its range extends as far south as Paraguay, Uruguay, and the Northern Argentine provinces (specifically San Luis, La Pampa and Entre Rios). It is considered to be one of the most frequently seen birds in Central Brazil. (Redford & Peters 1986)
Distribution outside the Americas
This species is endemic to South America, and therefore is not seen outside the Americas, except for a few captive birds, owned mainly by private collectors
The Red-legged Seriema is often found in lightly wooded areas and open, savanna-like areas. They are most often found in the grassy savanna region of central Brazil. Here, the landscape is well suited for their lifestyle, providing them with suitable cover, perches for singing and territorial defense, and productive habitat for foraging. They have been found at elevations as high as 2000m above sea level. These birds are often found in ares where fire has recently passed through, as the insects and small vertebrates that they feed on can easily be found in these cleared regions. (USA 2007)
There are no recorded changes to this species' range over time
Fossils of seriema predecessors have been found in North and South America, as well as parts of Europe. These fossil Cariamid relatives ranged in size from 1 to 3 meters tall. Like the seriemas, they had sharp beaks designed for tearing and long legs built for bursts of speed. It is believed that seriemas' closest ancestral relatives were the extinct, flightless "terror birds" of Phorusrhacidae, which were fierce predators in the prehistoric Americas. (USA 2007)