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James Souchon

Field Guide

James started his guiding career at the world-renowned Phinda Game Reserve, spending four years learning about and showing guests the wonder of the incredibly rich biodiversity that the Maputaland area of South Africa has to offer. Having always wanted to guide in the ...

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on The South African Significance of the Secretary Bird

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Interesting blog James. Love secretary birds. It is one of the bird species that we tick of our list of “big” birds when we go into the bush.

Hello, secretary birds are typical of your country so you surely are proud e of them, alike European with eagle I suppose. They are impressive and also funny to watch- not when they catch a hard for sure! Thank you for the explanation about the symbol on your national coat of arms!

Senior Digital Ranger

Secretary birds are wonderful creatures … when I was in Kgalaghadi I saw the symbiotic relationship between a secretary bird, a black-backed jackal and a honey badger. It was amazing – they were quite close together as they marched through the bush – the honey badger snuffled along looking for prey, the secretary bird stamped for snakes and the jackal picked up what neither of them wanted. I have never seen such a sight before and enjoyed every minute of following them – this strange trio. They all benefitted from this relationship. And I did too!

Senior Digital Ranger

Thank you for sharing the symbolism of such a magnificent bird. Quite beautiful. Do they breed in Londolozi?

Hi Barbi, yes they do breed on Londolozi from time to time. They will breed all year round in South Africa and for the last few years we have seen them nest on the reserve.

My first sight of a secretary bird was a silhouette against a golden sky at the top of a huge tree, standing in a twiggy nest. It left a lasting impression! A magnificent bird that deserves to be on your coat of arms!

A very interesting blog, James. I had not realized before that this bird is represented in your coat of arms. I like watching these birds because they are really beautiful and quite impressive.

They are such majestic birds., but I don’t remember seeing them very often in the bush. I certainly did not know they are the crown of South Africa’ coat of arms! Victoria

I was lucky enough to see a secretary bird at Londolozi and catch a photo of it (although it wasn’t a very good photo).

Thanx for the informational blog today on this very special bird. My last sighting was several months ago in Chobe, a pair strolling through the grasses, male leading the female into a rocky formation. I find them stunning in their plumage. I hadn’t realized their significance for South Africa and appreciated the explanation of the image on your coat of arms. Cheers!

Hi James, are secretary birds actually immune to snake venom?

Hi Suzanne, they are not immune to snake venom which is why they do have to be careful and quick when hunting them. Their legs, like a lot of other snake eating birds, are very tough and armoured which helps protect them.

Thanks James that was informative!

James, l love secretary birds🤗

They are beautiful birds and so interesting to watch. Have yet to see one tossing a scrub hair in the air!

Hi James! Thank you for the fascinating article. As kids going through the Kruger , we used to call them the “ Bike pants” birds! Would not want to be on the receiving ends of those talons or that beak!

A really interesting blog James and love the pictures of the Secretary Bird. They are a beautiful looking bird. They make me think they are walking on stilts with their long legs. It is nice that it is featured on your Coat of Arms. Loved the interesting facts that you pointed out about them. Thanks so much for sharing with us. Take care, be well and stay safe to all at Londolozi.

They really are unique birds!

Very interesting, James S ! Thank you very much indeed. Wendy M

Super interesting James! I was gobsmacked imagining a secretary bird killing and eating a hare..seems quiet a meal. Then again a lot less aggressive than a snake 😂. A stunning bird 💕🙏

Completely fascinating!! I once did a report on the Secretary bird, I think it was in 4th or 5th grade!!

Senior Digital Ranger

These raptors are fixture in the wilderness areas.Trully beautiful bird.built complete with special configurations for killing/hunting

Hi James and Co!

Can anyone tell me what the Tsonga/Shangaan word for Secretary Bird is please? I would be hugely grateful as it is for my book and I can’t find the local translation anywhere!

Hi Susan, yes for sure. The Tsonga name for a Secretarybird is Mampfana. I hope this helps.

Sean! You are amazing, thank you so much! 🙂

You are most welcome.

Hi Susan, yes sure the Tsonga name for a Secretarybird is Mampfana. I hope this helps.

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