Emerald Park | Zoo | Secretary Bird | Theme Park & Zoo
A close up of Secretary bird

Secretary bird

Sagittarius serpentarius
Conservation status IUCN

For more info on classifications visit

endangered labels endangered sign no background
endangered list endangered sign no background
  • paws icon
    Animal c. lass
    Aves, accipitriformes
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    They live across a range of grassands, open plains and lightly wooded savannah.
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    Carnivores – predators that eat meat including large insects, birds, small mammals, and snakes.
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    Conservation status
  • Introduction

    Secretary birds have the longest legs of any raptor.

    Their long legs allow them to walk through long grass, while seeking out prey on the ground. They have a unique hunting style when compared to other birds of prey using their powerful legs to stamp on their
    prey, immobilising it and usually swallowing it whole.

    The secretary bird has a distinctive and striking appearance, instantly recognisable by the long black crest feathers which protrude from the back of its head, a bare patch of bright red skin on its face and two large tail feathers which trail behind their rump. Their long tail feathers and distinctive crest help in hunting their favourite prey, snakes.

    The secretary bird is mainly terrestrial spending most of their time on the ground. Though they hunt on the ground, the secretary bird is well adept at flying.

  • Conservation

    Secretary bird’s are classified as endangered.

    Evidence suggests that the current population is experiencing declines due to hunting, capture for trade, habitat degradation and disturbance*

    Intensive grazing of livestock degrades suitable habitat and indiscriminate poisoning are also contributing to the decrease in the population of wild secretary birds.

    *IUCN, 2022

  • Habitat

    They are an African species found south of the Sahara Desert all the way to the southernmost tip of South Africa. They can be found in a range of habitats such as grasslands, open plains and lightly wooded savannah. The secretary bird is sedentary in some parts of its range and nomadic in others.

  • Fun Facts

    The secretary bird forms monogamous pairs and breeding can occur throughout any time of the year.
    While the female sits on the eggs the male will bring her food. Both parents are involved in feeding and rearing the chicks teaching the chicks how to hunt on the ground when they are old enough.