01 Feb

19 QnA Facts of the Secretary Bird (African Devil's Horse)

By Jerry Tanzania Tours

Secretary Bird is a Large and mostly terrestrial bird of prey. Endemic to Africa, it is usually found in the open grasslands and savannah of the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Mainly during Tanzania Safari Tours, we are going to discuss 19 Secretary Bird Facts or the facts about African’s Devil’s Horse.

1. What does a secretary bird mean?

A large bird with a head of an eagle, long leg, and neck, named after its crest of long feathers looks like quill pens carrying by secretaries behind their ears or, an old clerk carrying the quill pen in their wigs. The Secretary Bird was used as a domestic pet by farmers of Sudan and South Africa a long time ago to kill the pest and snakes from their agricultural lands. They called the bird “Sagittarius “. It was said that after some time it pronounced wrongly as “Secretarius”. “Sagittarius Serpentarius” is the Scientific Name Of The Secretary Bird which means “catcher of snakes”.

The secretary bird prefers running more than flying. Due to being faster, it also called African Devil’s Horse, which is one of the Interesting Secretary Bird Facts. Although This Secretary bird named after the Arabic language terms “Saqr-et-air”, which means hawk of the semi-desert, as it was located in the sub-Saharan region or semi-desert. Later the Arabic term mispronounce as “secretaire” in French and “Secretary” in English.

2. Why is the secretary bird important?

Previously Secretary Bird is used as a pet by Africans to kill pests and snakes from agricultural land. To make a balance in the life cycle of nature, it is very important to protect the rarest bird of prey.

The Secretary bird’s uniqueness is for its walking and hunting. With their unique techniques of hunting, they are famous for killing a large poisonous snake. The Government of Sudan and South Africa uses the Secretary Bird as their logo symbolizing victory, pride, and joy. It also has importance in spirituality. It is said that to call Secretary Bird to improve the financial condition, make the best decision on a serious matter or problem, improve in familiar relations, high self-esteem, for a quick recovery from illness, to finish the work efficiently.

3. What is the secretary bird lifespan?

The lifespan of the secretary bird is between 10 to 15 years, whereas the can live up to 20 years in captivity.

4. How do secretary birds kill snakes?

The Secretary bird is also known as “hunter bird” or bird of prey. It is famous for its ability to kill the snake, whether the snake is larger or dangerous. After spotting the snake, it picks up the snake and eats it, in case of a small snake, but in case of a larger and dangerous snake, the bird attacks on their neck or back by stamping repeatedly on the ground with its thick sole of the leg. According to researchers, the one kick is similar to 5 times their weight. After stamping the snake, the bird eats it.


5. How do secretary birds hunt?

secretary bird quick facts

After sunrise, the secretary birds in a group start searching for the food in their territory. They can run up to 30 km for the food especially snakes. The Secretary Bird keeps tracking the movement of their prey like insects, small mammals, reptiles, etc. They use two incredible techniques for hunting. One is the first, catch the prey and chase to bring it down. During the chase, they defend themselves with the help of the wing. After that, they stamp hard on the prey by their thick leg until the prey is dead.

Another one is they picked up the prey from the ground and start to swallow. If you are lucky enough, you can see the hunting during your Tanzania Safari Tours.

6. What animals eat the secretary bird?

The Secretary Bird generally eats big insects, small mammals or birds, amphibians, snakes, larger snakes. They sometimes even eat young gazelle or young cubs of the cheetah.

7. Why can secretary birds run fast?

With a tall height and size, they are one of the terrestrial raptors. So they prefer to walk and run fast rather than flying. They spread their wings and feathered crest during running and hunting. To aid the speed, they spread the wing. They walk more than 30 km per day. As they run faster, they are known as Devil’s horse.

8. Can the Secretary bird fly?

Yes. The secretary bird can fly. Because of the search for prey, the secretary bird prefers to stay on the ground. While flying, the secretary bird straightens the leg back to balance.

9. Where secretary birds live?

secretary bird facts

The secretary bird is a large, terrestrial bird of prey and, can be found in the open grasslands, and savannah of the sub-Saharan region. This bird species also can be found in semi-deserts, and scrub areas.

10. What are secretary birds Enemies?

Usually, an adult secretary bird has no enemies. The young Birds are eaten by crows, ravens, hornbills, large owls, and kites.

11. How tall is a secretary bird?

The height of a Secretary bird is between 4 to 4.3 feet. They are tall mostly for their long legs.

12. What is the secretary birds wingspan?

With a weight of 2.3 to 5 kg, the wingspan is 6.2 ft to 7.2 ft and 2 meters wide. They use it to defending themselves while chasing prey.

13. Are secretary birds dangerous?

No, secretary birds are not dangerous. A long time ago, Africans kept them as a pet to finish the pests and snakes from their agricultural lands and farms.

14. What sound does the secretary bird make?

Secretary birds are normally silent. The Secretary bird makes a deep and rapid hoarse croaking sound, which sounds like a noise of a frog or raven. This kind of noise can be heard when the male searches for a female partner or during a courtship ritual. If you are lucky enough, you may hear the sound during Tanzania Safari Tours.

15. How does a Secretary Bird Reproduce?

facts on secretary bird

After courtship, mating happens in their nests, where the female bird lays 2 to 3 eggs within a period of two to three days. It takes 45 to 50 days for incubation. The newborn bird’s face was yellow with down plumage. It takes 80 days to spread the wings fully for a newborn bird.

16. Where does the secretary bird nest?

The Secretary bird nest can found in acacia trees of open grasslands and sub-Saharan Africa. With a wideness of 8 feet, the nest is 30 cm deep.

17. How fast do secretary bird chicks grow?

Newly hatched chicks have a yellow color in the face with down feathers. Though they have grown feathers, it takes 80 to 90 days to fly.

18. Who eats the secretary bird?

No one eats a Secretary bird, but young birds or eggs of secretary birds are eaten by crows, ravens, owls, and kites.

19. Are secretary birds endangered?

The secretary bird is endangered or not, nothing specified yet, but it comes under the vulnerable list of IUCN Red List. Due to the loss of habitat and deforestation, this species could be endangered in the future.

Here are interesting Secretary Bird’s Facts through QnA. We hope this will help you to know some special qualities of this bird except other large birds like Eagles, Kites, Ostrich, etc. If you are lucky enough, you may watch some activities of the secretary bird during your Tanzania Safari Tours. For More Information About Secretary bird Visit @ https://jerrytanzaniatours.com/blog/secretary-bird-the-killer-queen-of-african-savannah/

jerry tanzania tours

Jerry Tanzania Tours is one of the no 1 reputable operators on Mount Kilimanjaro, leading over 1000 climbs and guiding 2,000 people every year. We do what we state and are focused on our customers. Because of which we endeavour to push our limits and surpass their desire by giving them the best climbing experience. Won't you join us on the Roof of Africa?

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