Secretary Birds Need Your Assistance
But can they fly? Of course! They may spend their days on the ground, but secretary birds are good fliers and nest and roost high up in acacia trees at night. In flight, their long legs trail behind them in the air.
Secretary birds need your assistance
Native to Africa, secretary birds are found south of the Sahara Desert, from Senegal east to Somalia and south to South Africa. Standing over four feet tall, the elegant birds cruise through grasses on long legs while looking for a bite to eat. Secretary birds prefer savannas with scattered acacia trees and short grasses where they can easily see while strolling.
Courtship for secretary birds takes place at any time of year, depending on how much food is available. Both male and female soar in wide circles and perform swoops and downward plunges, sometimes clasping talons in midair. The monogamous pair works together to build a large nest reaching up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) across. The nest is built of twigs, sticks, mammal fur, dung, leaves, and grasses. The busy couple works on and visits the nest for up to six months; pairs often use the same nest for many years.
One to three pale-green eggs are laid every two to three days, and the female does most of the incubation duties. The eggs hatch in the order they were laid, a few days apart. Both parents feed regurgitated and liquefied insects and other small prey directly to the youngsters. Unlike other birds of prey, secretary bird parents often raise more than one chick successfully.
Usually quiet, secretary birds do vocalize if needed. A deep, low croak or a roaring groan can be made during a courtship flight, during fights, or to defend territory or a nest, as crows and kites often attack secretary bird nestlings, which are easy targets in their treetop nests. A single high croak is made when the bird is alarmed, and soft clucks and whistles are used between mates. To beg for food, chicks use a soft cheeping call that changes to squeals and loud brays as they get older.
We still have much to learn about these amazing birds and how they raise their young. At this time, the secretary bird is common over much of its range and is protected in many African countries. However, habitat loss and deforestation could affect its future.
The secretary bird is a large bird of prey. Unlike nearly all other birds of prey, the secretary bird lives and hunts on the ground. The scientific name of the secretary bird is Sagittarius serpentarius.
Secretary birds have long legs. Their bodies are slim but very strong. Secretary birds can grow to be 4 feet (1 meter) tall and have a wingspan as wide as 7 feet (2 meters). Although secretary birds can fly, they prefer to stay on the ground.
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Ostriches have even bigger, heavier legs than us. They have no need to save weight, since they are flightless. Instead, they get around by running. An ostrich can run at 70 kilometres per hour, faster than many birds can fly. At full speed, it takes strides of over four metres.
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The Secretary, subject to the availability of appropriations, shall use amounts in the Exotic Bird Conservation Fund established by subsection (b) of this section to provide financial and technical assistance for projects to conserve exotic birds in their native countries. In selecting projects for assistance, the Secretary shall give particular attention to species that are subject to an import moratorium or quota under this chapter, in order to assist those countries in the development and implementation of conservation management programs, or law enforcement, or both.
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The reliance of the secretary bird on snakes has been exaggerated and other prey animals include large arthropods, small mammals, tortoises, lizards and small birds and their eggs. A few reports describe the killing of juvenile gazelles and cheetahs.
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