A bird of prey with a weird name, the Secretary Bird is definitely one of the most amazing birds you can ever witness. Known for its killer kicks and unusual hunting skills, it acrobatic skills in air and its really unusual appearance, this bird has grabbed some serious attention worldwide. In this article, let us learn 20 Secretary Bird facts that will detail why the bird got that weird name, where it is found and the type of habitat it lives in. Of course, we will create more articles on this amazing bird covering other aspects but for the time being, let us focus on these three – naming, distribution and habitat.
Classification of Secretary Bird:
|Binomial Name||Sagittarius serpentarius|
Secretary Bird Facts: 1-5 | Naming
1. Secretary Bird is also often known as Secretarybird (notice the absence of space between the words Secretary and Bird in the second variant).
2. Now, coming the naming of the bird, it is believed that when the Europeans came across these birds, the noticed that the elongated black crest feathers resembled the secretaries back from 1800s when the male secretaries used to carry quill pens tucked behind their ears or in their wigs.
3. Also, secretaries from that era used to wear knee-length pants that were dark in color. The Secretary bird has black feathers that go till midway down their legs, resembling the knee-length pants.
4. Finally, secretaries, back in those days, used to wear tailcoats that were gray in color. The bird has long gray feathers in its wings and tail that resemble the tailcoats and hence the name.
5. A more recent theory says that the name came from a Arabic word “saqr et-tair”. That’s the name the Arabs use for the bird and in English, it literally means ‘hunger bird’.
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Secretary Bird Facts: 6-10 | Distribution & Habitat
6. Secretary Bird is endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa and are found to the south of the great Sahara Desert.
7. The actual range in which the Secretary Bird. It the west, it can be found all the way up to the Gambia and Senegal.
8. Moving eastward, this bird of prey can be found all the way up to Ethiopia. Down south, it can be found all the way up to South Africa.
9. Secretary Birds are distributed across a variety of elevations from highlands to coastal plains.
10. They avoid dense shrubbery and forests because their massive size can impede their movements. They prefer savannas and open grasslands where the height of the grass is short enough for them to spot preys. Also, they select grasslands where acacia trees are scattered because they build their nests on top of acacia trees.
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Secretary Bird Facts: 11-15 | Diet of Secretarybird
11. These birds walk around for hunting. They have long strides. They are carnivores. This means that they eat other living beings.
12. Their diet consist of a wide range of prey. They feed on a wide range of Arthropods like scorpions, wasps, beetles, spiders and grasshoppers.
13. They also feed on small mammals like hedgehogs, mongooses, hares, mice, rats etc.
14. They also eat small birds, bird eggs, some small amphibians and even crabs.
15. They eat reptiles too. Lizards and snakes often become their diet and among snakes, they eat adders and cobras.
Secretary Bird Facts: 16-20 | Hunting Habits
16. They are birds of prey but one of the only two terrestrial birds of prey. The other one is Caracara. This means that Secretary Bird spends most of its time walking and hunting instead of flying.
17. The bird will walk and stamp on the ground to flush out small animals hidden in grass. It will then chase these small animals in a zigzag patter while keeping its wings spread out. This method is used for confusing the prey.
18. For smaller preys, they will usually use their beaks for stabbing and killing them and then eating them. For larger preys such as mongoose, hedgehogs, snakes etc. they will stomp their victims repeatedly to either kill the prey or to render the prey unconscious. They are known for kicking their prey with a force 5 times their own body weight!
19. Once the prey is dead or unconscious, the Secretary Bird will swallow the prey whole. The bird will not tear it up into pieces. They will swallow the whole prey (dead or unconscious) very quickly.
20. They come down from their nest only a few hours post dawn and walk around up to 20 miles a day for hunting.
Did you know that Secretary Birds are also scavengers? Yes, they can also feed on dead animals, especially the ones that recently died of forest fires. They will scavenge through burn sites and find recently dead animals and eat them.
Did you know that the Secretary Birds are very intelligent? During forest fires, they will wait at the fringes of the burning area and when smaller animals managed to escape the fire and make it out to the open, the birds will catch them and eat them.