SECRETARYBIRD (Sagittarius serpentarius) – (See images below)
For a bird, the Secretarybird has an interesting name. The Latin name ‘sagittarius’ is due to its shape as an archer. Serpentarius is linked to the fact that this bird is skilled at hunting snakes. As for its English name, it stems from its similarity to the heads of ancient secretaries who were tucking black feather pens behind their ears.
In terms of shape, the secretarybird is also unique – it has the body and the hooked bill of an eagle, but the long legs of a crane. It can reach around 4 feet high (more than 1 meter). The top parts are light grey with long black feathers extending at the back of the head. The lower parts are black down to the knees, and the lower leg parts and feet are grey. The face in the adult is red, and the bill is yellow and grey.
The secretarybird hunts on the ground for all kinds of small animals, not just snakes. However farmers will keep them to help rid their farms of snakes. They will kill their prey by stomping on them.
The secretarybird is native to Africa from south of the Sahara. It is the national bird of South Africa and the emblem of Sudan.
For more information on this bird, please click here.