About the Author

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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22 Comments

on The South African Significance of the Secretary Bird

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Marinda Drake
Master Tracker

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.

Francesca Doria
Senior Digital Ranger

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!

Linda Mansell
Explorer

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!

Barbi Evenson
Digital Ranger

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

James Souchon
Field Guide

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.

Mary Beth Wheeler
Guest contributor

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!

Christa Blessing
Senior Digital Ranger

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.

Victoria Auchincloss
Digital Tracker

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

Judy Boch
Explorer

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).

Denise Vouri
Guest contributor

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!

Suzanne Gibson
Guest contributor

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

James Souchon
Field Guide

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.

Kara Taylor
Digital Tracker

Thanks James that was informative!

Joan Schmiidt
Master Tracker

James, l love secretary birds🤗

Trish Monck
Master Tracker

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

Maxine Thomson
Explorer

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!

Leonie De Young
Senior Digital Ranger

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.

Callum Evans
Guest contributor

They really are unique birds!

Wendy Macnicol
Digital Tracker

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

Cally Staniland
Senior Digital Ranger

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 💕🙏

Paul Canales
Digital Tracker

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

Ashely Ndebele
Senior Digital Ranger

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

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