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Secretary Bird: Sagittariidae


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

Secretary birds live wherever there are plenty of prey animals available in a variety of grasslands and farmlands. They may enter deserts after a heavy rain, and they sometimes go to clearings in forests. They roost and nest in low trees growing in the grasslands. They cannot live in heavy forests, because it is difficult for them to fly among the trees.

Scientists study the pellets of secretary birds. The bones and feathers in the pellets give them an easy way to find out what the birds have been eating. The birds are valuable to farmers because they eat insects and rodents that might otherwise eat grain. Bird watchers in Africa enjoy seeing these long-legged raptors that are famous for killing snakes.

Secretary birds are not threatened, and they are protected by laws in most African countries, although some people hunt them illegally.



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"Birds of Africa (The Secretary Bird)." Scienceland (Spring 1997): 24–25.

Holtzen, Ellen. "The Fire Bird." Ranger Rick (November 1984): 46–47.

Kemp, M. I., and A. C. Kemp. "Bucorvus and Sagittarius: Two Modes of Terrestrial Predation." Proceedings Symposium on African Predatory Birds, ed. Alan Kemp. Northern Transvaal Ornithological Society, Pretoria. (1977).

Web sites:

"Secretary Bird." The Big Zoo. http://www.thebigzoo.com/Animals/Secretary_Bird.asp (accessed May 17, 2004).

"Secretary Bird." The Hawk Conservancy Trust. http://www.hawkconservancy.org/priors/secretry.shtml (accessed May 17, 2004).

"Secretary Bird." Indiana University. http://www.cogsci.indiana.edu/farg/harry/bio/zoo/secrtary.htm (accessed May 17, 2004).

"Secretary Bird." Kenya Birds. http://www.kenyabirds.org.uk/secretary.htm (accessed May 17, 2004).

Raptor Conservation Group, Endangered Wildlife Trust. http://www.ewt.org.za

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Animal Life ResourceBirds