20 Secretarybird Facts: Description and Behavior

by Sankalan Baidya
secretarybird facts

In our last article on Secretarybird facts, we learned about it weird name, its distribution range, its habitat, its diet and its hunting habits. Indeed we didn’t cover everything about the bird. So, in the article, we are going to make up for some other facts spanning over their description and behavior. Sounds fair enough? Fine! Let’s start…

Secretarybird Facts: 1-5 | Descrption or Physical Characteristics

1. Secretarybird is a large bird of prey. It has distinctive long legs like that of cranes and hence, it is a tall bird. Average height of 2.95 feet to 3.93 feet is atypical but they can be as tall as 4.3 feet.

2. The head of a Secretarybird is like that of an Eagle with a hooked bill. The weight of the bird averages between 2.3 kilograms to 4.27 kilograms.

3. Males are slightly larger than females and hence, the wingspan of the males is slightly larger than the wingspan of the females. For males, the wingspan is between 4.13 feet and 4.43 feet while for females, the wingspan is between 3.94 feet and 4.33 feet.

4. Body feathers are usually gray in color across the bird’s back. The feathers become pales towards breast and rump. Flight feathers, belly feathers and thigh feathers are all black but underwings take up white color.

5. The bird’s brown eyes get a bare facial skin surrounding. This bare skin has a deep orange-red color. The bill of the bird is blue-gray in color.

Secretarybird Facts: 6-10 | Description

6. The long legs of the bird are bare and carry a close resmblance to those of a crane. However, unlike the cranes, the legs of the Secretarybird are very powerful.

7. The legs are slightly pinkish in color that end in stubby and pink toes.

8. Perhaps, THE MOST distinctive feature of the Secretarybird is its crest. There are black-tipped long and erect feathers on the backside of its head.

9. Coming to its tail, the bird has two central feathers that are very elongated. When these birds fly, their tail feathers extend beyond their feet.

10. As far as the juveniles are concerned, they have a similar appearance with slight differences. Their eyes are gray and not brown. Their plumage is more brown. Their tails are short and their faces are yellow.

Secretarybird Facts: 11-15 | Behavior of Secretary Bird

11. The Secretarybird is often referred to as ‘Marching Eagle’ and ‘Devil’s Horse’. The reason is that they spend most of their time walking around and chasing prey on foot. They are fast runners actually.

12. They don’t have migratory traits. They however, are very territorial and a pair (a couple) will usually have a territory of 19 square miles. Within this territory, they will walk around 20 miles a day for hunting.

13. The Secretarybird is diurnal. Its active hours is during the day. It comes down from the nests 2 hours after sun rises and continue hunting till late afternoon. Just before the sunset, the bird will return to its roost.

14. During peak day hours when it is hottest, the bird will usually be seen resting under trees in the shade.

15. This bird of prey is usually seen hunting in pairs or at times in familial groups not exceeding 5 individuals. Sometimes however, they can gather in larger groups but won’t stay for long.

Secretarybird Facts: 16-20 | Behavior

16. When the bird will come under duress, it will start flapping its wings and run for some distance before taking a flight.

17. Secretarybird is a very good flyer and a great acrobat in air. One of the very interesting of Secretarybird facts is that they are very proficient when it comes to flying but they will save their energy by making use of the warm air currents. About acrobatics, consider watching a video on YouTube of somewhere. You will understand how good they are at flying.

18. Secretarybird is not capable of taking off right from where it is standing. It will first go for a take-off run, which is pretty long and then it will take the air and start flying.

19. Secretarybird doesn’t migrate (that is they are non-migratory) but of course, they have nomadic traits. Apart from traveling long distances for hunting, they will also travel long distances depending on environmental conditions, forest fires and rainfalls.

20. The bird has a very unusual hunting behavior. It will spread out the wings wide and raise the crest feathers on the back of its head while attacking its prey. Experts say that it is a move used by the bird to confuse and startle its prey.

Image Credit

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

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