The Secretarybird or Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) is a large, mostly terrestrial bird of prey. Endemic to Africa, it is usually found in the open grasslands and savannah of the sub-Sahara. Although a member of the order Accipitriformes, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, buzzards, vultures, and harriers, it is given its own family, Sagittariidae.
The Secretary Bird is instantly recognizable as having an eagle-like body on crane-like legs which increases the bird’s height to around 1.3 m (4 ft) tall. This 140 cm (4.5 ft) long bird has an eagle-like head with a hooked bill, but has rounded wings. Body weight averages at about 3.3 kg (7.3 lbs) and the wingspan is over 2 m (6.6 ft). Due to its long legs and long tail, it is both longer and taller than any other diurnal raptor. The neck is not especially long, and can only be lowered down to the inter-tarsal joint, so birds reaching down to the ground or drinking must stoop to do so.
From a distance or in flight it resembles a crane more than a bird of prey. The tail has two elongated central feathers that extend beyond the feet during flight, as well as long flat plumage creating a posterior crest.Secretary Bird flight feathers and thighs are black, while most of the coverts are grey with some being white. Sexes look similar to one another as the species exhibits very little sexual dimorphism, although the male has longer head plumes and tail feathers. Adults have a featherless red face as opposed to the yellow facial skin of the young.
Young are preyed upon by crows and kites as they are vulnerable in Acacia tree tops. As a population, the Secretary Bird is mainly threatened by loss of habitat and deforestation. In 1968 the species became protected under the Africa Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Nevertheless the species is still widespread across Africa, and has adapted well to arable land where prey animals such as rodents are more common than in traditional habitat. The species is well represented in protected areas as well.