Secretarybird

secretary

 

Secretarybird is the  large bird of prey that lives in the Sub-Saharan Africa. Secretarybird usually inhabits savannas and open grasslands which enable fast identification of the potential prey. Other than that, secretarybirds can be found in semi-deserts, forests and farmlands. Secretarybirds are threatened by habitat loss due to increased agriculture and urban development. Luckily, number of secretarybirds in the wild is large and they are not on the list of endangered species.

 

Interesting Secretarybird Facts:

  • Secretary bird can reach 4 to 5 feet in height and 5 to 9 ½ pounds of weight.
  • Upper part of the body is grey in color. Bottom side of the body and flight feathers are black. Facial skin is orange-red in color, and the beak is bluish-grey. Long, erect black feathers form crest on the back side of the neck.
  • Researchers used to believe that name “secretarybird” originates from 19th century when male secretaries wore quills in their wigs (similar in appearance with crest of secretarybird). More likely, name “secretarybird” originates from Arabic word “saqu ettair” which means “hunter-bird”.
  • Secretarybird has wingspan of 7 feet. These birds rarely fly even though they are proficient in the air. They fly with the help of warm air currents to preserve energy.
  • Secretarybirds have extremely long legs that are covered with scales. Scales prevent injuries that may result from the movement across the rough terrain.
  • Unlike other raptors, secretarybirds look for the food by walking on the ground. They can travel a distance of 20 miles each day.
  • Secretarybirds are carnivores (meat-eaters). Their diet consists of snakes and other reptiles, insects and rodents.
  • Secretarybirds apply two methods to kill their prey. They will either stab the prey with the beak or stomp the victim until it is dead. Secretarybirds swallow the prey in one piece.
  • Secretarybirds are territorial animals. They occupy territory of around 19 square miles.
  • Secretarybirds are loud animals that produce croaks, whistles, groans and clucks. They vocalize during the courtship, when they are threatened or as a sign of aggression toward other males.
  • Besides humans, natural enemies of secretarybirds are hawks, large snakes and carnivorous mammals.
  • Mating takes place throughout the whole year and reaches the peak during the spring and summer. Female produces couple of broods per year when the food is abundant.
  • Both parents build nest out of the sticks and leaves. Nest is usually 8 feet wide and located on the acacia tree. Female lays 1 to 3 eggs that will hatch after incubation period of 42 to 46 days.
  • Both parents take care of the eggs and young chicks. Secretarybirds regurgitate swallowed food to feed their chicks. At the age of 40 days, young birds will start to eat small animals. They will leave the nest for the first time at the age of 12 weeks.
  • Secretarybird can survive up to 20 years in captivity.

 

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