Sagittarius serpentarius

A quill-like quiff

The secretarybird got its name in the 19th century – supposedly because the bird’s remarkable crest reminded Europeans of the court secretaries who would keep their quills tucked behind their ears.


  • Origin


  • Habitat

    Open or sparsely vegetated savannah, agricultural areas, semi-deserts

  • Diet

    Insects, small mammals, lizards, snakes, eggs and chicks, amphibians

  • Status


  • Size

    2 to 3 m

  • Weight

    approx. 3 kg

  • Breeding season

    up to 45 days

  • Achievable age

    up to 30 years

Threat Categories of IUCN

A lethal kick

A powerful, accurate kick to the spine is enough for the secretarybird to kill its prey. Since poisonous snakes also form part of the bird’s diet, it must rely on its skill and speed when executing this manoeuvre.

Did you know?

Secretarybirds can cover up to 20 km per day on foot.
The bird’s wingspan can reach over two metres.
The secretarybird is a raptor, even though it hunts on the ground.

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