SecrbirdEating a snake - a favourite food item (Photo Niall Perrins)The Secretarybird is a charismatic and familiar species, and uses a variety of habitats across its range in sub-Saharan Africa. It occurs in all nine provinces in South Africa.

The Secretarybird is easy to identify; it has long legs, grey-black plumage, crest feathers and orange facial skin. In flight its long elongated central tail feathers are characteristic.

Conservation Status of Secretarybird

The Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius) was uplisted from Near-threatened to Vulnerable. In South Africa there is considerable concern about the conservation status of the species. A preliminary analysis of SABAP1 and SABAP2 data shows a considerable reduction in the areas this species previously occupied. This is probably mostly due to habitat loss and habitat degredation, but other threats such as power lines collisions are aslso taking their toll.

Information Gap

It is quite surprising that we know very little about the biology of this species. We know, for example, very little about the Secretarybird's population size and trends in South Africa and other factors such as territory size. Juvenile dispersal and general movements are also poorly understood. This information is needed if we are to conserve this threatened species.

Research Proposal

BirdLife South Africa has initiated research on the Secretarybird in order to understand aspects of its biology which will assist with its conservation. This research includes tracking the movements of Secretarybirds using satellite tracking devices. With these devices the movement of individual birds can be determined in great detail. These devices provide accurate locations to within 10m every 15 minutes from sunrise to sunset. Not only will it be possible to determine long distance movement patterns, but also habitat use and territory size.


We will update the movement of tracked birds on this website on a regular basis. In addition we will post updates and other interesting information about Secretarybirds on a dedicated Facebook page - follow this link:

Tracked Birds

Below are links to dedicated pages for each Secretarybird which has been fitted with a tracking device. Basic information about each bird as well as a map indicating the movement of the bird can be found on each page. The pages will be updated on a regular basis.

Spyker in the Southern Free State

BLiNG from Sondela

Taemane from Warden

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and Petra Diamonds are Species Champions for Secretarybird conservation in South Africa

airportspetraSpecies Champion