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(cariamas, or seriemas), a family of birds of the order Gruiformes. Cariamas are about 75 cm in height; the legs and tail are long. There is a crest at the top of the bill. The gray or brown plumage is marked with small dark speckles.
Cariamas are distributed in the central part of South America. There are two species: the crested cariama (Cariama cristata), which inhabits prairie regions, and Burmeister’s cariama (Chunga burmeisteri), which inhabits thinned forests and savannas. The crested cariama nests on the ground, and Burmeister’s cariama in trees. A clutch contains two eggs, which are incubated for 25 or 26 days. At hatching the young are sighted and covered with a long down. They remain in the nest for a long time. In captivity the young birds are easily tamed and easily bred. Cariamas feed on small fruits, insects, and reptiles, including poisonous snakes. The birds are hunted.