28 November 2007

S for Secretary Birds

One of the things I love about Africa is the variety of wildlife. It is a great thrill when driving on the open road to come across a Secretary Bird roaming the savannah. These pictures were taken a few years ago at the Mountain Zebra National Park, with a point and shoot camera and are not of the best quality.

Secretary Birds are recognizable by having an eagle-like body on long crane-like legs, which increases the bird’s height to around 1.3 m (4 ft) tall. It has an eagle-like head with a hooked bill, but has rounded wings. Body weight averages at about 3.3 kg (7.3 lbs) and the wingspan is over 2 m (6.6 ft).

Secretary Birds are endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa and are non-migratory. They prefer open grasslands and savannas rather than forests and dense shrubbery. They roost on the local Acacia trees at night and they spend much of the day on the ground, returning to roosting sites just before dark.

The Secretary Bird is largely terrestrial, hunting its prey on foot. Adults hunt in pairs and sometimes as loose familial flocks, stalking through the habitat with long strides. Prey consists of insects, small mammals, lizards, snakes, young birds, bird eggs, and sometimes dead animals killed in brush fires.

Secretary Birds have two distinct feeding strategies. They can either catch their prey by chasing it and striking with the bill, or by stamping on their prey until it is stunned or unconscious enough to swallow
Secretary Birds are monogamous. Their nests are built on top of Acacia trees, usually 5-7 m (15-20 feet) high. The nest is around 2.5 m (eight feet) wide and 30 cm (one foot) deep, and is constructed as a relatively flat basin of sticks.

17 comments:

Andrea said...

Interesting post. Never heard of Secretary birds.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Very interesting post. We don't have anything like that around here.

Above all else. Welcome home and welcome back to ABC. I thought it was amazing you kept up!

God Bless you.

kml said...

They are unique looking. Very interesting post!

Susanne in Key West said...

Very nice post, Max. Me too, I never heard about these birds.

RuneE said...

This must be the essence of ABC Wednesday: Instructive pictures, relevant information = I have learned a lot!

dot said...

How interesting! I would not want to be pecked or stamped by one of those creatures. Very unusual looking.

Oswegan said...

They are very bizarre looking creatures. they remind me of some combination gone wrong. Like a vulture crossed with a rooster and a hawk.

Thanks for sharing Max. Hope this comment finds you feeling well.

~Oswegan

Peter M said...

I would love a secretary bird so I can say, take down my particulars

mrsnesbitt said...

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm my mum was a secretary...............now i wonder how she got promoted to the position! LOL!

Lilli & Nevada said...

Wow those are amazing birds, those legs are so different from anything i have ever seen, and nope nothing like that around our area for sure. Love seeing and learning new things.

Suzi-k said...

it is hard to convey their size in a photo, 4 ft tall is only 10 ins shorter than Max's German granny... ok admittedly she was unusually short, but these birds are hugely impressive in the flesh!

Julie Steenkamp said...

Can't believe I live in Africa and has never seen a Secretary Bird. Nice post, at least now I also know what they look like!

Kerri said...

How very neat! They look like lovely birds -- I have never heard of them before. It is amazing how different birds are in other parts of the world.

Great "S" Post!

Anna said...

Hey Max-e thanks for letting me on the secret about the Secret Birds, they kind of look like roosters from far away, lol. I was going to tell you to send them over but the they don't migrate, oh well. BTW I am glad that you are back on board, and please do take care of yourself, and don't stress yourself over blogging even it is fun for all of us. I am really glad that you back. Anna :)

photowannabe said...

The bird is a new one for me too. i can't get over the powerful legs on them. They look like they were put together wrong. Great pictures and so informative.
Glad to have you back Max.

Ali Honey said...

Hi Max, Great photos. Your own personal secretary bird ( Suzi-k ) did a great job informing us all while you were fighting for your life. Glad you are back blogging now. Hugs to you both from Ali in NZ.

Oswegan said...

Taste's like chicken.

~Oswegan