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The Secretary Bird

The Secretary bird is a large bird of prey found in the open grasslands and savannas of sub-Saharan Africa. They feed off insects, lizards, snakes and small mammals ranging from mice to mongoose. Basically they will eat anything they can catch – either tearing them apart or swallowing them whole. Secretary birds specialize in stomping their pray until either dead or immobilized. Their long, scaly legs protect them from bites from venomous snakes and mammals.

-In 1789 Vosmer was the first European to describe the Secretary bird naming it Sagittarius for its gait which he thought resembled an archer’s. -In 1779 and English illustrator Johnann Hermann, also described it as a Secretary Bird. -It wasn’t until 1935 that it was assigned its own family distinct from all other birds of prey. In local myth, people in South Africa thought the feathers on its head reminded them of ink quills, thus the Secretary. Unfortunately, declining habitat has greatly reduced its numbers. It’s still a striking bird on the coat of arms of South Africa. See one in person and visit Kruger National Park.


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