Secretary Bird, an African bird of prey. It is a long-legged bird about four feet (1.2m) in height with a head and hooked beak similar to a hawk's. Its plumage is blue-gray except for black wing tips, thighs, tail, and crest. The bird derives its name from its long crest feathers, which stick out from the back of its head somewhat like the quill pens that office workers once carried behind their ears.

The secretary bird is famous as a hunter of snakes but also eats rodents, large insects, small birds, and eggs. It hunts on foot in open, sparsely wooded grasslands south of the Sahara. It is believed that secretary birds mate for life. The pair builds a nest of sticks on top of small trees. Usually two eggs, white with reddish-brown streaks, are laid in the nest.

The secretary birdThe secretary bird is a long-legged bird about four feet in height.
How Did the Secretary-Bird Get Its Name?

Long ago, secretaries wrote and copied letters by hand. They stuck quill pens behind their ears when they weren’t using them. The black plumes of this bird reminded people of quill pens. So they named the bird the secretary-bird.

Secretary-birds live on grassy plains in parts of Africa. These birds are tall, and they have much longer legs than other birds of prey. They run through the grass, attacking prey with their feet and wings. Secretary-birds catch and eat large insects, snakes, small mammals, and lizards. They also eat the eggs of other birds.

When it’s time to nest, secretary-birds build unusual homes. They use sticks, leaves, and grass to make a kind of platform. Both parents incubate the eggs and share in feeding the chicks.

The secretary bird is Sagittarius serpentarius, the only member of the family Sagittariidae.