Fun Secretary Bird Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
Feb 13, 2023 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Spandana Kantam
Interesting facts about the secretary bird.

A secretary bird was, for the very first time, described by John Fredrick Miller in 1779 and was named so due to their resemblance to the then European secretary. They are large-sized, beautiful birds that rarely fly and hunt on land.

They are also known for their unique yet attractive appearance, their powerful feet that can kick, and their wings that they rarely use to fly. It is one of the most powerful birds of prey and is also known as secretary bird Sagittarius serpentarius.

There are various distinguishing physical features that are present in the secretary bird such as long legs, black crest, and black feathers covering thighs and the abdomen. The diet of secretary birds include small animals, birds eggs, lizards, grasshoppers.

The female birds of this species lay around two to three eggs which are blue in color.

Both the male and female stay together during the incubation period. The gestation period for the eggs of this species is 50 days after which the eggs hatch and chicks are born.

The young chicks are dependent on their parents who feed then regurgitated prey. After about a period of three months the chicks fledge.

While the height of the secretary bird can go up 4 ft 3 in, the wings have a wingspan of between 75-85 in. After you have read this article on secretary birds, do check out our articles on mockingbird and blue-footed booby bird as well.

Secretary Bird Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a secretary bird?

A secretary bird is a terrestrial bird of prey that is large in size and is known for its exceptional snake hunting skills. This tall bird species in native to South Africa and is found primarily in the South African region.

What class of animal does a secretary bird belong to?

The secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) belongs to the class of Aves in the Animalia kingdom.

How many secretary birds are there in the world?

These birds are rare and are found in areas and places in and around Africa. They are not found in regions or places that experience extreme weather and are usually found in wild and grasslands. They have been declared vulnerable to extinction and are around 67,000 in number, according to 2016 statistics.

Where does a secretary bird live?

These raptors basically live or are found in the African region in Sub-Saharan African savannas, shrublands, and grasslands.

What is a secretary bird's habitat?

Secretary birds are among the few terrestrial birds that hunt on land at elevations, coastal plains, highlands, and grasslands.

Who do secretary birds live with?

Secretary birds usually live in small groups or with their partner. They are known to mate for life and stick to their partners throughout their lifetime. They also take care of their loved ones equally.

How long does a secretary bird live?

The secretary birds are known to have a lifespan of around 10-15 years in the wild and sometimes longer in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

Secretary birds reproduce by laying eggs. A female secretary bird is known to lay around one to thee eggs at once. Their mating process takes place both in the air and on land.

What is their conservation status?

Secretary birds are kept under the category of vulnerable, according to the statistics of 2016.

Secretary Bird Fun facts

What do secretary birds look like?

Secretary birds are really strong, colorful, and beautiful terrestrial preying birds that resemble cranes through their legs and height, and eagles through their face and beak.

Male and female secretary birds almost look similar with grey color on their body and back, pale grey tail feathers, and two very long central black tail feathers that make the tail look wedge-shaped.

They have hair on half of its legs which makes it look as if they are wearing biker shots.

The coverts of the wings of the secretary birds are grey-blue in color with the underparts being of grey-white color. Their characteristics and features make them look like weird birds.

The Secretary Bird walking on grass

How cute are they?

Secretary birds are really beautiful creatures listed among one of the most unique and beautiful birds amongst all. They are really colorful and strong at the same time, which makes them even more desirable and antique.

How do they communicate?

Secretary birds are known to be usually silent throughout the day, but they are also known for their loud croaking voice that is deep and hoarse, which is considered similar to that of a frog or raven.

Male secretary birds are known to make this when they are searching for their female partner or during a courtship ritual.

If you have never come across a secretary bird, you may not know that they have a wide range of vocalizations that they use to show and communicate different things among themselves. Secretary birds are usually not active until after sunrise.

They use different intensities of such hoarse croaking sound, clucking calls, squealing, soft whispers, and much more to display threat, hunger, threaten, and much more to express themselves and communicate with other secretary birds.

How big is a secretary bird?

A secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) is a long legged bird with a slender yet powerful body frame. The body of a secretary bird is around 4.1-4.9 ft tall, 44-59 in, wingspan of 75-85 in and weighs around 5-9 lb.

A secretary bird is around ten times the size of a normal sparrow and is regarded as one of the biggest terrestrial birds of prey.

How high can a secretary bird fly?

Secretary bird's wings have a wingspan of 6.3-7.1 ft, but they rarely use them to fly until required. Flying is a bit laborious for these birds, but they have the capacity to fly really high and can rise up to a height of 12500 feet which is around 3800 m from the ground.

How much does a secretary bird weigh?

These creatures weigh around 5-9.4 lb which is 2.3 - 4.3 kg. The female secretary birds are relatively smaller and lighter than males.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male and female names of Secretary Birds are male secretary bird and female secretary bird. Both male and female secretary birds almost look similar other than the fact that a female secretary bird is comparatively smaller and less bluish than a male secretary bird.

What would you call a baby secretary bird?

The young ones of secretary birds are commonly regarded as chicks or baby secretary birds.

What do they eat?

Secretary birds are known for their hunting skills on land. Even though they have wings to fly, they rarely use them for hunting up there and eat different other animals.

They are carnivorous creatures that travel around 30 kms every day on land in search of food. Secretary birds usually hunt down snakes, rabbits, mice, small mammals, large insects, lizards, small birds, crabs, and other animals as a part of their diet.

Are they predators?

Yes, secretary birds are carnivorous predators and prey on almost all of the small mammals, birds, and insects, including rabbits, mice, mongooses, and many more. However, they are especially known for their hunting skills and methods and are even known for their snake hunting skills.

Would they make a good pet?

Though not being illegal, secretary birds can be kept and tamed as a pet, but people strongly disagree with this. Secretary birds are known for their odd and wild behaviors, which makes them highly unsuitable to be petted.

Secretary birds as pets are highly unpopular cause these are not domesticated animals or are capable of being domesticated. They are regarded as wild animals that are highly unpredictable and can be dangerous as pets.

Did you know...

One of the other amazing facts about secretary birds is that they represent and symbolize divine majesty and are regarded as messengers from heaven. A secretary bird is known for its powerful body and spear-like strong legs that are used for hunting snakes which is compared to nations that safeguard themselves from their enemies.

They are known for their unique and powerful hunting methods by using their feet and are also known for swallowing their prey whole at a time.

A secretary bird can kick really hard and is powerful enough to kill its prey, including snakes.

Who would win: secretary bird vs. a snake?

Secretary birds are really strong terrestrial birds that rarely fly only when it's necessary and are known to hunt on land.

A secretary bird is known to prey on a variety of small insects, mammals, rodents, and many more but is especially known for its skills to hunt a snake.

These birds are well known for their snake hunting skills and methods that form a huge part of their diet every day. Secretary birds use the force of almost five times their body size and use their strong feet to stomp and kill snakes and other prey and eat them whole.

It is believed that a secretary snake is most likely to win in a fight, but a snake can win too if it is lucky enough.

Why is it called a secretary bird?

There are a number of different opinions as to why the bird is known as a 'secretary bird’.

It is believed to be developed in the 1800s when European people first saw such a bird which resembled a secretary at the time that wore a grey tailcoat and dark knee-length pants accompanied by goose-quill pens that they carried behind their ear.

Its unique name is believed to have evolved from the crest of feathers that are similar to quill pens that male secretaries in Europe used to carry around.

This is known as the most common concept to be believed as to why this bird was called the ‘secretary bird’.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including hoopoe bird, or bee hummingbird.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Secretary Bird coloring pages.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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Fact-checked by Spandana Kantam

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Political Science and Sociology

Spandana Kantam picture

Spandana KantamBachelor of Arts specializing in Political Science and Sociology

Spandana holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Acharya Nagarjuna University. She has a passion for writing and enjoys reading crime and thriller novels while listening to RnB music in her free time.

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