These Birds of sub-Saharan Africa’s savannas, grasslands, and shrub lands stand at nearly four feet tall—and standing is often how you’ll find them, because they primarily move around on foot. They fly only when necessary, such as to reach their nest in the trees and for courtship displays. The secretary bird is distinguished by its long legs and a dramatic black crest of feathers on the back of its head. Its body is covered in whitish-gray feathers, with two long, black-tipped tail feathers. Its bare face is usually yellow, orange or red. The top half of its long legs has black feathers, so it looks a bit like it’s wearing bicycle shorts. The lower half is covered with scales and has barely visible feathers. While it’s not known for certain where the name “secretary bird” comes from, one explanation is that they’re named after 19th lawyer’s clerks, or secretaries. Secretaries typically wore gray coats and knee-length black pants, and they would tuck quill pens behind their ears, similar to the bird’s coloring and head feather.
Keywords to learn
Quill: Any of the main wing or tail feathers of a bird
- The hollow shaft of a feather, especially the lower part or calamus that lacks barbs
- A pen made from a main wing or tail feather of a large bird by pointing and slitting the end of the shaft
Hey Kids, my name is Sam the Secretary bird and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species @ www.kids.nationalgeographic.com
Mass:About a pound.
Length:Around a foot long.
Region found:Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa..
Population Status:Least concern.
Current population trend:Decreasing.
Sexual maturity:1 year.
Secretary birds are not aggressive and are not dangerous, however they do have a bite with their beak, so be careful anyways.
Now that you know more about the secretary bird by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
Download questions about the secretary bird here: Secretary Bird (answers are on this page)
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Secretary bird Fun Facts for Kids
- # 1. Secretary birds and Caracas are the only two birds of prey that hunt on the ground instead of from the air. Secretary birds’ diets consist of small rodents, amphibians, and reptiles.
- # 2. Working in small groups or with a partner, secretary birds hunt from just after dawn through to the evening, resting only during the peak heat of the afternoon.
- # 3.Snakes are a favorite meal, and in fact, the bird’s scientific name, Sagittarius serpentarius, means “the archer of snakes.” If a snake tries striking a secretary bird, it usually ends up with a mouthful of feathers from the bird’s almost seven-foot wingspan, which it uses as a distraction.
- # 4. Mating displays take place both in the air and on the ground. They perform aerial courtship displays, similar to other raptors, called “pendulum flights.” The bird will swoop down, then up again, repeating the undulating pattern over and over. Sometimes one will dive at the other, who will roll backward in the air, presenting its claws.
- # 5. The female usually lays three blue-green eggs, which both parents incubate. When the eggs hatch after about 50 days, both parents care for the chicks, including feeding them regurgitated prey. The young birds fledge after about three months.
- #1. Where does the secretary bird live?
- # 2. What is the average lifespan of the secretary bird?
- # 3. What is the population status of the secretary bird?
- # 4. What is the current population trend of the secretary bird?
- # 5. What does a secretary bird eat?