Secretary Bird, Sagittarius serpentarius

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October 30, 2008BirdsNo comments

Remember a few days ago when we chose the Secretary Bird for the bird of the day? Well, I found this picture on flickr and was very excited to see a bird I recognized. YAY! =)

Here is what the photographer said about the Secretary Bird:

About

The Secretary bird is a bird of prey, but unlike other raptors it has long legs, wings and a tail. The single species of its family, the bird gets its name from its crest of long feathers that look like the quill pens 19th century office workers used to tuck behind their ears.

The bird is basically dove-grey in color, with black on the wings, thighs and elongated central tail feathers. The short, down-curved bill is backed by an area of bare, red and yellow skin. The Secretary bird stands three feet high.

These birds are basically terrestrial, taking to flight only when hard-pressed. Usually only single birds are found, with members of a pair some distance apart.

The Secretary bird walks well on extremely long legs, and a bird may plod up to twenty miles in a day. When pursued, it relies on its speed to escape.

It finds most of its food on the ground and has a partiality for snakes. It grabs the snake with its strong toes and beats it to death on the ground, while protecting itself from bites with its large wings. Finally, it seizes its prey and hurls it into the air several times to stun it. (In South Africa, these birds are kept in captivity to destroy snakes and rats.)

In addition to finding food with its beak, the Secretary bird will also stamp on grass tussocks with its feet to scare up lizards, grasshoppers, and small mammals or birds.

Secretary birds consume snakes, other reptiles, amphibians, tortoises, rats and other small mammals as well as young game birds.

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