secretary bird

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secretary bird,

common name for a long-legged African bird, Sagittarius serpentarius, related to the hawkhawk,
name generally applied to the smaller members of the Accipitridae, a heterogeneous family of diurnal birds of prey, such as the eagle, the kite, and the Old World vulture.
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 and about 4 ft (122 cm) tall. Its crest of black feathers suggested the quill pens behind the ear of a 19th-century male secretary. The bird hunts on foot, zigzagging toward its prey and flapping its wings, and is valued as a destroyer of snakes and other reptiles. Secretary birds are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Accipitriformes, family Sagittariidae.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Secretary Bird


(Sagittarius serpentarius), a bird of prey of the family Sagittariidae. Up to 1 m tall, the secretary bird resembles a crane. The legs are long and powerful, and the talons are short. The plumage is gray and black. The feathers on the head are reminiscent of goose quills stuck behind the ear of a clerk—whence the bird’s name.

The secretary bird is found in steppe areas in sub-Saharan Africa. The nests are in trees or bushes at 2–6 m or higher; each clutch contains two or, less frequently, three eggs. The secretary bird feeds on locusts, termites, reptiles, birds, and rodents; it hunts on the ground. It kills its prey, for example, poisonous snakes, by striking it with its feet; it uses its wings to protect itself from bites. It is under legal protection everywhere. It sometimes attacks useful birds, such as partridges.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

secretary bird

a large African long-legged diurnal bird of prey, Sagittarius serpentarius, having a crest and tail of long feathers and feeding chiefly on snakes: family Sagittariidae, order Falconiformes (hawks, falcons, etc.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
A 24-year-old female secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) was presented with acute open-mouth breathing whenever food items were swallowed.
The secretary bird was anesthetized as described previously.
We describe the diagnosis and successful treatment of a foreign body-induced inflammatory obstruction of the trachea in a secretary bird. Tracheal strictures, compression, or obstruction resolved by resection have been described in a variety of birds, including a pied imperial pigeon (Ducula bicolor), (3) ducks, (3,5) a goose (Anser species), (6) a crane (Grus species), (7) a stork (Ardeola ibis), (3) a curassow (Crux globulosa), (3) blue and gold macaws, (8,9) a barn owl (Tyto alba), (10) a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jaimaicensis), (11) and an eagle (Halieaeetus leucocephalus).
What kind of foreign body caused the inflammation and obstruction in this secretary bird remains elusive.
(3,9) Tension is considered to be the limiting factor for long tracheal resection, especially in birds with long and flexible necks as in this secretary bird. However, Jankowski et al (9) reported successful removal of 15 tracheal rings in two sessions with subsequent survival for at least 2 years in a blue and gold macaw.
This 24-year-old secretary bird underwent several blood collections to screen organ health and inflammatory reaction.
We described a successful tracheal resection in a secretary bird. Resolution of clinical respiratory signs, improvement of body condition, and return of the WBC count and hepatic enzyme levels to reference values indicated successful therapy.
Dorsoventral radiograph of the cervical region of a 24-year-old secretary bird shows a clearly visible stricture (arrow) in the trachea.
Tracheoscopic image of the tracheal stricture of the secretary bird described in Figure 1 on day 12 after symptoms began.
and midnight on NATGEO) Mongooses, cheetahs, secretary birds, Mongolian wolves, foxes and polar bears are featured in the opener of this series following predatory creatures in the wild.