Monday, March 16, 2009

secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius)


"When the secretary bird comes calling, even the deadliest snake had better hide, for this odd-looking creature is a master of the fine art of killing snakes. Found throughout the African grasslands from the Egyptian Sudan to Cape Province, the secretary gets its name from the crest of long feathers that look like old-fashioned quill pens stuck behind its ears. Most of its four-foot height is taken up with the long, gangling legs that allow it to walk faster than a man can run. When it spies a snake, it approaches, weaving and flapping its wings. By confusing the aim of the reptile's fangs, it can pin the writhing serpent with one powerful foot. Then, seizing its victim behind the head, it either dashes it to death or takes it aloft and kills it by dropping it from a great height to the hard ground below."

--Animal World in Color, Volume 8 - Hunters: Birds, Fish, and Amphibians, edited by Maurice Burton, Childrens Press: Chicago, 1969

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