Secretary bird looking straight at the camera

Secretary bird

Long-legged hunter

Type

blue jay

Birds

Area

Map of Africa

Africa

Endangered Status

Stable

facts

size
About 4 feet
height; 6.5 foot wingspan
An average refrigerator is 5.8 feet (70 inches) tall.
Secretary bird's height compared to an average U.S. refrigerator
food
meat
carnivore

Secretary birds eat reptiles, birds, small mammals, and large insects.

habitat
savanna,
steppe, and woodland
grassland habitat

description

Secretary bird making a large leap with wings spread

Going hunting

This bird’s forward-looking eyes and large, hooked beak are clues to what it eats—it’s a hunter! A secretary bird’s long legs help it move through tall grass in search of food. When it spies prey—like a snake, for example—the bird pounces and clutches it in its claws. Then the secretary bird pounds the prey against the ground to stun or kill it.

Secretary bird roosting in a tree

Making the rounds

Secretary birds search for food on the ground throughout the day. They roost in trees at night. They are usually quiet, but make croaking sounds when they are meeting a mate.

A juvenile secretary birds looking right shows off its large head feathers

Ruffled feathers

Most of the time, a secretary bird’s long, dark head feathers lay flat against the body. But if the bird feels threatened, it makes the feathers stand up to make the bird look bigger.

Secretary birds are found south of the Sahara Desert, from Senegal east to Somalia and south to South Africa.