For Wildlife Wednesday this week we talking about one of my many favorite birds, the secretary bird! This was a fun one to do because as much as I like these beautiful birds, I didn't know a lot about them. Let's learn some facts!
Secretary birds are raptors. They eat large insects, reptiles and small mammals.
They live 10-15 years in the wild, but have been known to live up to 20 in zoos.
Secretary birds can fly, but they prefer to move about on foot. They have long powerful legs, similar to a crane but much stronger.
On foot, secretary birds can cover 12-18 miles a day while searching for food.
They are also sometimes referred to as as Africa's Marching Eagle.
Secretary birds live in sub-Saharan Africa. They are nomadic and prefer open areas.
Secretary birds are the tallest of the raptors. They measures 4-5 feet tall. They also have the longest legs of any bird of prey.
Their legs are covered in heavy scales that protect them when hunting and walking through brush.
Their feet are not good for grasping. They don't carry prey with their feet. Instead they eat it immediately or carry it in their beak.
Secretary birds are diurnal (daytime) and opportunistic hunters. If they can catch it, they'll eat it. They swallow their food whole.
Adult secretary birds sometimes hunt in pairs or as small family groups.
Secretary birds hunt on the ground. When they've found prey they kick and stomp on it until it is dead.
Secretary birds also use stomping to scare prey out into the open.
The secretary bird is the on the national coat of arms of Sudan and South Africa.
Secretary birds usually mate for life and both males and females feed the young. They regurgitate food for the babies at first. As they get older, the youngsters are given whole prey.
Secretary birds spend their nights and build their nests in acacia trees.
Females lay 1-3 eggs that take 42-64 days to hatch.
Secretary birds are very good at catching snakes, even venomous ones.
The secretary bird’s scientific name is Sagittarius serpentarius. It means “the archer of snakes.
For years it was thought that the secretary bird gets its name from the feathers on its neck, which are reminiscent of quills carried by secretaries of the past. Their coloring and feathers also reminded people of tail coats.
In recent years, the theory has been put forth that their name comes from the Arabic word “saqu ettair” which translates to “hunter-bird” and was then translated to the common name it has today.
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