can a secretary bird fly

Food and feeding edit Juvenile with lizard kill at

The birds frequently trample the nearby flora to release prey from tall grass. During a hunt, their crest feathers may rise, potentially acting as a deterrent and shading for their face. [27] A bird will fly after its prey, spreading its wings, and then quickly strike its victim with its feet. The bird will only use its bill to directly pick small prey items, like wasps. Although it hasn’t been confirmed, there are rumors that a secretarybird will fly with its prey after catching a snake and then let them die. Food is typically swallowed whole through the bird’s large gape, even with larger prey. Sometimes, they will use their feet to hold down a food item while using their bill to tear it apart, just like other raptors. [27] Secretarybird skeleton; the feet are used for killing prey.

Food particles that are indigestible are regurgitated as 40–45 mm (1 6–1. 8 in) in diameter and 30–100 mm (1. 2–3. 9 in) in length. These are typically left on the ground close to the nest trees or roost. [27] The secretarybird’s digestive tract is shorter than that of large African birds like the kori bustard, which have more varied diets. There is little need for the mechanical breakdown of food because the foregut is specialized for consuming large amounts of meat. As in other carnivorous birds, the gizzard is nonmuscular and the crop is dilated. There is no need for the fermentative digestion of plant material, so the large intestine contains two vestigial ceca. [43].

Secretarybirds specialize in killing or immobilizing their prey by stomping on it. [44] This kind of hunting is typically used on snakes or lizards. [45] It was discovered that an adult male trained to hit a rubber snake on a force plate could do so with five times its own body weight in just ten to fifteen milliseconds of contact. Given the brief duration of contact, it appears that the secretarybird uses excellent visual targeting to pinpoint the exact location of its prey’s head. Though its visual field is poorly understood, it is thought to be large, frontal, and binocular. Secretarybirds are thought to have evolved their unusually long legs—nearly twice as long as other ground birds of the same body mass—in response to their distinctive stomping and striking hunting style. But it also seems that having such long limbs reduces its running efficiency. Because of their anatomical similarities, despite their lack of close relationship, ecophysiologist Steve Portugal and colleagues have conjectured that the extinct Phorusrhacidae (terror birds) may have used a similar hunting strategy to secretarybirds. [44].

Other predators are rare for secretarybirds, with the exception of tawny eagles, who will steal their kills. Eagles will attack secretarybirds individually or in groups, but their primary prey is larger game. Secretarybird pairs may even manage to knock the eagles down and pin them to the ground in addition to occasionally being successful in driving them away. [27].

Relationship with humans edit

An ivory knife handle from the Naqada III culture, which was found in Abu Zaidan, Upper Egypt, shows the secretarybird (c 3,200 BC). According to this and other knife handles, the secretarybird most likely lived further north along the Nile in the past. [47][48] Secretarybird depicted as the.

The Maasai refer to it by its crest feathers, ol-enbai nabo, which means “one arrow.” [53] Various parts of the bird have been used in traditional medicine: the smoke from burning the feathers was inhaled to treat epilepsy; the egg was eaten with tea twice a day to treat headaches; and the fat was boiled and drank for the health of cattle or children. [54] The Xhosa people refer to the bird as inxhanxhosi and believe it to be extremely intelligent. [55] The Zulus call it intungunono. [56][57].

In 2008, German biologist Ragnar Kinzelbach hypothesized that Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, had mentioned the secretarybird in his 13th-century work De arte venandi cum avibus. Described as bistarda deserti, it was mistaken for a bustard. Frederick most likely learned about the bird from Egyptian sources. Furthermore, in 1558, the French priest and traveler André Thevet described an enigmatic bird that Kinzelbach compared to this species. [47].

Behaviour and ecology edit A pair atop a tree

The exception to this rule is when a pair of secretarybirds and their young are together. Typically, they take up residence in Acacia or Balanites trees, or even in imported pine trees in South Africa. [24] They usually spend some time preening before setting out 1-2 hours after dawn. [27] Matched pairs stay in sight of one another even though they may forage apart. They roost together. They pace around at a speed of 2. 5–3 km/h (1. 6–1. 9 mph), taking 120 steps per minute on average. [24] Secretarybirds return at dusk,[28] following a large portion of the day on the ground, traveling downwind before ascending [24] Male birds that are seen alone are typically single and their territories are usually located in less ideal places. On the other hand, larger groups of up to 50 people might be found at a location with a specialized resource, like a waterhole in a dry area or a swarm of locusts or rodents escaping a fire. [27].

Secretarybirds soar with their primary feathers splayed to manage turbulence. Their ability to flap their wings is limited to slow, laborious movements that require uplift to maintain; otherwise, they risk exhaustion. They use thermals to ascend to 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) above the earth during the hottest part of the day. [27].

The lifespan in the wild is estimated to be between 10 and 15 years[29], with the oldest recorded by banding being 5 years from a nestling that was banded on July 23, 2011, in Bloemfontein, and recovered 440 km (270 mi) away in Mpumalanga on June 7, 2016[30], as well as up to 19 years in captivity. [29] Haematozoan blood parasites, such as Leucocytozoon beaurepairei Dias 1954, which was discovered in Mozambique, are present in secretarybirds, just like in all other birds. Hepatozoon ellisgreineri, a genus that is distinct among avian haematozoa in that it matures within granulocytes, primarily neutrophils, has been discovered in wild birds from Tanzania [31][32]. [33] Two examples of ectoparasites are the lice Falcolipeurus secretarius (Giebel) and Neocolpocephalum cucullare (Giebel). [34].


Can a secretary bird be a pet?

Excessive burning destroys habitat. Intensive grazing by livestock. Waterholes poisoned by poachers. Secretary birds are kept as pets to get rid of snakes.

Are secretary birds rare?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the secretarybird in 2016 as a vulnerable species and as endangered in 2020, due to a recent rapid decline across its entire range.

Are secretary birds aggressive to humans?

Secretary birds are not dangerous to people. They only threaten snakes that they prey on. Secretary birds are an endangered species found throughout the savannas of Sub-Saharan Africa. These raptors are proficient snake hunters capable of delivering a lethal kick to take down their prey.

Is the secretary bird an eagle?

The Secretary Bird (Sagitarrius Serpentarius) is a member of the family of birds where Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, and Vultures are from. The Secretary Bird has a primarily terrestrial way of life, using its long legs to hunt snakes and trot menacingly across the savannahs of Africa.