Secretary Bird Sagittariidae

CHAPTER

Class: Aves

Order: Falconiformes

Family: Sagittariidae

One species: Secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius)

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

A secretary bird's long legs resemble those of a stork, yet it has the head and body of a bird of prey. Some people call it a "marching eagle," even though it is not an eagle. It is the only bird in its family, because there are no other birds similar enough to it. It is 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall, making it the tallest bird of prey. It has strong, thick claws that are used to kill prey and a hooked, pale gray beak. The large areas of bare skin on its face are orange.

A secretary bird's head, neck, and body feathers are mostly light gray or white. It does, however, have a crest of droopy black feathers that it can raise when it is excited. The bird has black flight feathers and black feathers covering the top half of its legs. The bird's tail feathers are black and white and the two middle tail feathers are twice as long as the others.

The male and female secretary birds look alike. The sizes of the birds in a pair may vary, the male being bigger at times, the female bigger at other times. The length from their beaks to the end of their long tails ranges from 49 to 59 inches (1.2 to 1.5 meters). They weigh between 7.5 and 9.5 pounds (3.4 and 4.3 kilograms).

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

They live south of the Sahara Desert in Africa, except for the heavily wooded areas in western Africa.

phylum class subclass order monotypic order suborder family

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