How did secretary bird get its name?« Back to Questions List

Secretary bird is a large terrestrial bird of prey found in open grasslands of the African Sahara region. It is three feet tall crowned with feathers. It is interesting to learn how the secretary bird got its name. It actually got its name from its looks. The feathers on its head resembles the old fashioned quill pens kept behind its ears and its business like blackish gray and white color has given such a name. To add to this, it stands quite erect. The bird is compared with the secretaries of the olden days who had their quill pens tucked behind their ears.


secretary bird, feather

Though secretary bird can fly, it dwells mainly on the ground. It hunts the ground for snakes, insects and mice.  Secretary birds are well known for their ability to catch and kill reptiles, small mammals and large insects seen  in the grass.  Eagles, large carnivores are its predators. Its body mass can range from 2.5 to 5 Kgs. It is a non migratory bird that is unique to the sub Saharan African, from Senegal to Gambia in the west across to Ethiopia in the east and extending southwards into South Africa.


secretary bird, sahara

It has a long bare legs resembling crane but are much more powerful. It is a cursorial bird that is adapted specifically to walk or run at high speeds. It does more walking (up to 20 miles a day) than flying. They may spend their days on ground but nest and roost high up in the acacia trees at night. During flight, their long legs trail behind them in the air. During the hottest part of the day, they rest in the shade of trees and return to their roost just before sunset. The young birds have a yellow face compared to that of an adult.

The spread of cultivation and urbanization associated with the expansion of human population is a major threat for the survival of the secretary birds.  Intelligent and Clever Animals and Birds



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