Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Secretary Bird

The secretary bird is native to Asia and Africa. The secretary bird's English name was once thought to come from the 1800s when Europeans first spotted these birds. Back then, male secretaries wore gray tailcoats and dark knee length pants. They also used goose quill pens that they carried behind their ears. This bird shares many of these physical features: long, dark quills at the back of the head; long gray wing and tail feathers that resemble a tailcoat; and black feathers that go midway down the legs like short pants. Secretary birds are distantly related to buzzard, vultures, harriers and kites. But unlike those birds, secretary birds spend most of their time on the ground. They stand over four feet tall. In their natural habitat they nest and roost high up in acacia trees at night. The secretary bird is the national is emblem of Sudan and a prominent feature of the Coat of Arms of South Africa. The photos below were taken at the San Diego Zoo. The bird gave me a good viewing. The biggest challenge was that it is behind glass. It was a busy day at the zoo and I had to be patient to not have strollers and legs in the glass reflection overlaying my view of the bird in my photos. I have always loved the secretary bird. As you browse the photos here, maybe you will see why?

If you'd like to see a few more photos from my time visiting the secretary bird this day there are a few more here . 


  1. What gorgeous closeups. Those eyelashes make the bird look coyly flirtatious. I didn't realize they could be so large. You have done a great job of isolating your subject and showcasing the remarkable details of its plumage. Your patience paid off big time.

  2. Such an interesting bird. Great photos.

  3. In the third shot, he looks so very coy. Great pix! Relation to scavengers explains those odd feathers (well, except for the punky quills). Nice!