4 – 5 feet long; 7-foot wingspan
Multiple feathered crest
Heavily scaled lower legs
Open grassland and semi-desert, Acacia woodland.
The Secretary Bird usually hunts alone or with its mate. The method used for hunting involves brushing the feet along the ground to flush prey from hiding areas and then snatching it or crushing it with the feet. Although the Secretary Bird can fly, soaring gracefully, it is more often found on the ground. These birds have been known to walk up to 20 miles in a day. Running is the preferred method of escape from danger, though if pressed, the bird may fly. Usually Secretary birds remain with their mates for long periods of time, though breeding usually occurs only when food is readily available.
The diet includes large insects and small amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. They are most famous as snake-eaters, including poisonous cobras and adders, but also eat game birds, plovers, chicks, mongooses, and rabbits. All but the largest prey are swallowed whole. They walk along the ground, usually in pairs, searching for prey which is killed with a quick kick of its foot.
It builds a platform nest of sticks on the top of a low tree. The 2 eggs are incubated for 42 – 46 days. The young fledge from 9 – 15 weeks of age.