Snake Killing Bird, Secretary Bird.

Secretary bird:

It is a bird with a mouth like an eagle, legs like a heron, a body weighing about 11lbs (5kg) and a height like a human child (4 feet).

Distribution & habitat:

These bird are found in the savannahs between Sudan and South Africa. These birds like to live around grass that is not more than two feet high because they can easily find their prey there.  They spend most of their lives walking on land and can walk up to 35 kilometres a day at a speed of 120 steps per minute.  They can fly very high and often fly above their habitat during the day in the open air to escape the heat and enjoy the cool air.  Hunting time usually lasts from afternoon to evening and after evening they fly to their nest where they spend the night.

Feeding habits:

The special reason for the recognition of this bird is its favorite food snake like cobra.  it also eats lizards, frogs, insects, rats and rabbits. It uses its claws for hunting.

When it finds a snake, it stretches its wings and raises its head to lift its crown of black feathers.

Since snakes have weak eyesight and estimate the size of the enemy by feeling its heat, this bird can scare the snake with its large body size. It stares its eyes on the snake’s head and when it gets a chance, kills the snake with a single blow on its head.  The snake can barely retaliate because the snake speed is less than that of the secretary bird.

Even if the snake retaliates, the first body part of the bird that comes into contact with the snake’s mouth would be dry feathers, or legs. The scales on bird legs cannot be penetrated by a snake’s mouth.

The claw speed of this bird is faster than the blink of an eye i.e. 10 to 15 milliseconds and the force in the claw is three times more than its body i.e. 20 kg  It is like hitting a 20 kg stone on  snake’s head.  It swallows its prey whole after killing it.

The etymology of the name:

Its name is also interesting and there are many stories behind it.  It is said that in the early 18th century, clerks and secretaries used the quills of birds to write with ink, and the quills of this bird’s head also look spread out, that’s why it got its name.

Burning candle and a quill pen on the background ancient manuscript

Another story is that its name is derived from the word Saqr al-Tayr, from the national language of Sudan (Arabic), which means desert eagle.

However, as its name suggests, this bird is also Secret, that is, nothing is known about its reproduction process (sex life), but it is known that it eats the dry shoots of the acacia tree (acacia) in the grasslands.  They build their nest in these trees and lay two to three eggs in a year.

Reproductive cycle:

The female lays these green and blue eggs one by one at an interval of two to three days.  The male also helps to incubate the eggs, but most of his work is hunting.  In about 50 days, the eggs hatch and hatchlings are fed by both the male and female. Sometimes due to insufficient food, often one or two chicks die. The youngest chick is more likely to die.

(secretary bird is eating a snake)

The national bird of Sudan:

This bird is the identity of Sudan, there are also postage stamps with its pictures, and the logo of this bird is printed on the presidential flag and the presidential seal.  This bird fights poisonous snakes which are similar to fighting the enemy for this country.

(Secretary bird is the national bird of Sudan)

Secretary bird is in danger:

Deforestation for the purpose of keeping domestic cattles and construction of roads has made it difficult for these birds to find prey, due to which they are not able to reproduce properly and their species are dramatically reduced.

There has been a decline in which international animal organizations have considered it endangered and informed the government to take action to protect the species.

In addition, many local tribes boil its body fat and feed it to domestic chickens, use its eggs and burn its feathers to prevent them from diseases.

In the natural ecosystem, these birds are very important as they eat venomous animals and maintain their population ratio and keep the ecosystem balanced and healthy.

Predators:

Secretary birds are not usually attacked by any other birds, but their young do become victims of local crows, owls and eagles..

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