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Secretary Bird

About Secretary Bird

The Secretary bird is a tall, slender, very long legged raptor with long wings, a long tail with long central feathers, and small feet. It gets its name from the quills of its crest of long, loose black feathers, which people in the earlier days thought that they looked like quill pens.

Feathers are bluish-gray with grayish-white underparts; tail is black, white, and gray. The Secretary Bird has pink bare skin on his face, brown eyes, dark gray bill, and pink legs.

Nests are built on a platform of sticks up to 8 feet across and up to 40 feet from the ground in trees or on a cliff. This bird has 2-3 whitish, pinkish or buff eggs, which are streaked with reddish-brown. The female bird takes care of the eggs until they hatch, about 45 days.

This great bird is unique; this bird hunts it prey by striding over the ground on its extremely long legs. Some believe that the Secretary Bird is more closely allied to the South American Seriemas: Long legged ground birds that live in a similar way and its resemblance to birds of prey is coincidence. But this bird is very strong and is an expert hunter and able to subdue powerful venomous snakes and small mammals. It often hunts in pairs or in a family group. It watches for grass fires and there it hunts and snatches up animals who are escaping from the flames and then after the flame has passed, it will go and search the blackened area for casualties. At night it roosts on flat-topped acacia trees. It can fly well and often flies on thermals, like a vulture or stork.

The stork-like, scaly legs of the secretary bird raise its body beyond the reach of venomous snakes, and it can pin a venomous snake to the ground with its small but strong feet. It kills the venomous snake by stamping on it.