Don’t let this bird’s looks distract you.
The secretary bird has some serious kick.
嗨 我是Danielle 你们正看的是《动物逻辑》
Hi, I’m Danielle and you’re watching Animalogic.
The secretary bird is one of the most gorgeous
and widespread birds in all of sub-saharan Africa.
They can be found strutting around in open grasslands and savannas
across the continent.
Despite their stork like physique,
their closest relatives are birds of prey
like eagles and hawks.
And like birds of prey,
they have a special ability.
They can squirt their feces
instead of dropping it.
Secretary birds are basically eagles on stilts,
and can be up to 1.3 meters tall,
just almost as tall as I am
which for a human isn’t very tall.
Surprisingly, these tall birds are incredibly light
at just about 4 kilograms.
Their hollow bones help them get very tall and statuesque
without making them too heavy for flight.
They can fly at heights of up to 3,000 metres.
But they’re not quite as graceful as their aquiline cousins.
But when you look this fly on land,
there’s little reason to leave the ground.
These killer queens have been turning heads for thousands of years.
Even the ancient Egyptians admired them.
By reliefs depicting secretary birds were recently discovered at the Temple of Hatshepsut.
The amazing thing is that there are no secretary birds in Egypt.
The artists were so awestruck by their beauty
that they carved the beautiful birds and stone for posterity.
European naturalists were also struck by their elegance.
They were originally named Sagittarius
which is Greek for Archer,
because of their refined and deliberate gait,
as well as for their head feathers
which resemble the arrows sticking out of an archer’s quiver.
Nobody knows for sure how the name changed from Sagittarius
to the less impressive Secretarybirds.
The leading theory is
that they reminded English naturalist of their secretaries
who used to use goose quill pens
and put them in their hair when they were not writing.
The other theory is that it comes from the Arabic word
sakura air 意思是“猎鸟”
sakura air, which means hunter bird.
But please forgive my pronunciation, I can’t pretend
that I know how to do that correctly.
And that might be a more accurate name.
Everything about their biology
is designed for hunting dangerous prey,
particularly venomous snakes.
They have legs for days,
but they’re stomping machines that kick with deadly accuracy.
When they find a snake,
secretary birds go for the head,
and stomp with ferocious speed.
Their stoves can produce forces of 20 kilograms,
that’s five times greater than their bodyweight.
They’re fashion-forward plumage serves as a distraction.
they shake their tail feathers and wings
to get the snake’s attention away from their legs
to prevent them from biting them.
Some reports even suggest that they’re at least partially immune to snake venom.
As the secondary safety measure,
their contact time with the snake is just about 15 milliseconds.
That’s faster than the blink of an eye,
and more importantly,
faster than a snake’s reaction time.
Just call them foot of the North Star.
Blink and you’ll miss it.
Their beautiful eyes have luscious eyelashes.
These are modified feathers
that filter debris when they’re stomping and kicking up dust.
Maybe it’s an evolutionary trait
developed over hundreds of thousands of years
to protect their most important sensory organ.
Or maybe it’s Maybelline.
In any case they have the prettiest peepers in the animal kingdom
with these extravagant looks.
You would expect them to behave in Casanovas.
But they’re really more like Romeo and Juliet’s.
males perform an elaborate flight display.
If a female likes them,
they’ll form a monogamous couple,
and will build a large nest on an acacia tree.
The nests are about two and a half meters wide,
spacious enough for the two secretary birds
and a couple of babies.
To feed their babies,
secretary birds carry food in their mouths
rather than with their talons.
Their legs are deadly stomping machines,
and their talons are sharp enough to shred prey to pieces.
But their feet are not strong enough to carry heavy prey.
Unfortunately, even though they can lay up to 4 eggs,
usually only two babies survive.
They have to compete with each other
for the food that their parents bring home.
The youngest one usually starves to death.
This fratricidal conflict is also known as cainism.
Parental care doesn’t end at the nest.
After 80 days,
the babies fledge and leave the nest.
But the parents stick around until the young learn how to hunt for themselves.
Once they’re fully grown and pretty,
they’ll disperse and start their own beautiful families.
What animals should I talk about next,
please let me know in the comments,
and be sure to subscribe for new episodes of Animalogic every other week.
Thanks for watching.