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Secretary Bird
Similar Birds:

Secretary Bird
Photographer: Yoky

Secretary Bird in Flight
Secretary Bird in Flight
Photographer: Putneymark

Secretary Bird Range Map (Africa)
Secretary Bird Range Map (Africa)

Secretary Bird
Photographer: Ludovic Hirlimann

Latin Name Sagittarius serpentarius
Conservation Status Vulnerable
Location Africa
Colour Grey, Black & White
Length 1.3 - 1.5 m (4.25 - 5 ft)
Wingspan 1.2 - 1.35 m (3.9 - 4.4 ft)
Weight 2.5 - 4.5 Kgs (5.5 - 10 lbs)
Life Expectancy Up to 18 Yrs (in Captivity)

Main Characteristics

Secretary Birds are large, mostly terrestrial birds of prey. They have a body length between 1.3 and 1.5 m (4.25 - 5 ft), a wingspan between 1.2 - 1.35 m (39 - 4.4 ft), they weigh between 2.5 and 4.5 kgs (5.5 - 10 lbs) and they stand between 0.9 and 1.3 m (3 - 4.3 ft) tall.

They generally have grey plumage with black flight feathers and thighs. Their face is orange/red and they have a crest of black feathers on the back of their head. Their tail is wedge-shaped and they have long, powerful, stork-like legs.


Secretary birds can be found in sub-saharan Africa. They inhabit open grasslands and savannahs, semi-deserts, scrub or lightly wooded areas.


Secretary Birds feed on lizards, frogs, snakes, tortoises, small mammals, grasshoppers and other large insects.

They are opportunistic predators and they hunt exclusively on the ground, either alone or in pairs. They flush out their prey by stamping on tufts of grass, then they run after it giving it repeated blows with their feet. When they attack snakes they use their wings as a shield.


Secretary Birds are though to form monogamous pairs for life. They usually breed once a year, although two broods can be raised if the conditions are desirable.

Females will lay 1 - 3 eggs and they are incubated by both parents for 42 - 46 days. The chicks will fledge between 2 and 3.5 months old and become independent at this time. Sometimes they will remain in the same territory as their parents, but after approximately two months the parents will chase them away so they can breed again.


Adult Secretary Birds have no natural predators. Eggs and youngsters are preyed upon by crows, ravens, ground hornbills, kites and eagle owls.


There are no subspecies of the Secretary Bird

Interesting Facts

Secretary Birds are also known as:
Devil's Horse

The Secretary Bird is the national emblem of Sudan and it features on the coat of arms of South Africa.

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