Secretary bird

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Secretary Bird
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Branch Deuterostomia
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Aves
Sub-class Neornithes
Infra-class Neoaves
Order Information
Superorder Passerimorphae
Order Falconiformes
Infraorder Falconides
Family Information
Family Sagittariidae
Genus Information
Genus Sagittarius
Species Information
Species S. serpentarius
Population statistics
Conservation status Vulnerable (2011)[1]

The secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) is a long-legged bird of prey inhabiting much of sub-Saharan Africa. The only living member of the family Sagittariidae, current scientific consensus places it within the Falconiformes, despite anatomical and superficial similarities shared with the South American cariamas.

The name is in reference to the sparse crest of feathers adorning the back of the head, after a passing resemblance to 18th century clerks who had goose-quill pens held behind their ears when not writing.


The secretary bird has a wingspan of 6–7 feet, and stands nearly 4 feet tall on crane-like legs. It is predominately gray, with black primaries and secondaries on the wings, black belly and thighs. The tail is long with black bars, with the two central tail feathers nearly twice as long as the others. The face is bare of feathers, and reddish in color.

Habitat and range

Secretary birds inhabit dry grasslands and sparsely-wooded savannahs, from sea level to 3,500 feet, in most of southern and eastern Africa, north to Somalia.