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Afrikaans name: Sekretarisvoel


Photo © EcoView -

Sagittarius serpentarius

The Secretarybird is commonly believed to have got its common name from the feathers that stick out from behind its head which resemble someone with a pen or quill stuck behind their ear. I like this explanation but it may not be the correct one. Some sources say that the name comes from the Arabic word saqr-et-tair which means "hunter-bird". This also makes sense!

Secretarybirds have a standing height of around 1.3 metres. They weigh around 3 to 4 kg. The face of adult birds is orange while juveniles are yellow.

You will normally see Secretarybirds in areas of savanna or grassland. They patrol the grasslands looking for food items which include snakes, small mammals, birds, eggs, crabs and lizards. They use their long legs to stamp on the grass and chase out or kill prey.

They build their large nests in the top of smallish trees. The nest is made of sticks and is about 2.5 metres across. The female Secretarybird lays 2 or 3 eggs but it is rare that 3 chicks are raised.



List of South African Birds

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