The Secretarybird – Ornithology


The Secretarybird –Sagittarius serpentarius. The widespread identify comes from the feathers of the top crest which resemble  quill pens. Sagittarius, from the Latin, means “arrow or archer” and refers back to the means an archer walked whereas stalking prey; serpentarius means “serpent handler” from the chicken’s supposed affinity for snakes. They’re endemic to Africa the place they inhabit open areas.

A really distinctive and unmistakable chicken, Secretarybirds stand roughly 4.3-4.9 ft tall, one of many tallest birds of prey on this planet. Their prolonged, slender legs are longer than their thighs, giving them a considerably stilt-like look. Their legs are, in actual fact, virtually twice so long as different ground-dwelling birds of the identical weight. The plumage is predominantly grey with black feathers on the wings and higher legs. The pinnacle has a crest of lengthy black feathers that resembles a secretary’s quill pen, which provides the chicken its identify. Adults have a unadorned red-orange face with pale brown eyes and a yellow cere (the fleshy a part of the beak containing the nostrils.) Their neck and head will not be particularly lengthy, so the chicken should stoop down to achieve the bottom. In flight the Secretarybird’s neck and legs are prolonged. The Secretarybird is said to different main teams of predatory birds such because the hawks and eagles, vultures, and the Osprey.

Secretarybirds are formidable hunters, primarily preying on small mammals, bugs, and sometimes birds. Though recognized for consuming snakes, particularly the venomous cobra and adder, these reptiles don’t comprise a lot of the chicken’s eating regimen. Sometimes the birds will take bigger prey like rabbits and even younger antelopes. The birds are diurnal, which means they’re most energetic in the course of the day. They hunt by strolling by way of the grasslands, savannas, or agricultural fields, utilizing their sturdy legs and ft to stamp on the bottom, flushing out prey hiding within the vegetation. The toes are so brief and stout that the chicken can not use its ft and claws to know prey as many predatory birds do however as soon as the prey is uncovered, the chicken makes use of its lengthy legs and sharp talons to ship lethal kicks, gorgeous or killing the sufferer earlier than consuming it. The lengthy legs enable it to use a drive to an imprisoned prey merchandise of 5 occasions the chicken’s physique weight! Secretarybirds usually swallow their prey complete though bigger animals will probably be held down by the ft and torn aside by the sharp invoice.

Secretarybirds are often present in pairs in the course of the breeding season however generally collect in small teams, particularly the place meals is ample. They’re recognized for his or her spectacular courtship shows, which contain aerial exhibits, hovering excessive above the bottom with an undulating flight. They construct massive, flat nests made from sticks and vegetation on the prime of a thorny tree like an acacia to guard the eggs from predators; each female and male share the parental duties. In 2020 the Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature designated the Secretarybird species as endangered as grasslands are being taken over by woody shrubs, fragmented by roads, and overgrazed by livestock.


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