Secretary Bird

Sagittarius serpentarius

This is an African bird, living south of the Sahara. It can fly very well, but rarely does so because it hunts on the ground, being able to walk up to 30 km in a day. It uses its feet to stamp on the ground to flush out prey. It mostly eats insects, lizards, snakes, tortoises and rats. Secretary birds form life-long pairs, and build their nest (which can reach 8 feet in diameter) in trees. In spite of its size, the nest usually holds only two or three eggs. Secretary birds are almost completely silent birds, except for a rare croaking sound they utter when displaying. Did you hear the call in this page? We think that sound is one of the reasons why it is called Secretary bird, although others believe that its name has to do with the feathers extending from the back of its head.

This picture was taken at the Columbus, OH zoo, in August 2002.

Family Sagittariidae
Order Falconiformes
Class Aves
Subphylum Vertebrata
Phylum Chordata
Kingdom Animalia
Life on Earth