360 DEGREE LIVES: nicknamed “the most beautiful bird”, the secretary kills with kicks


Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of videos offering a close-up perspective on the animal kingdom. A special 360-degree video camera system has been installed in zoos and other facilities to show how animals see their world when they interact.

Also visit our special 360 DEGREE LIFE page (http://t.asahi.com/360lives), where you can watch all the previous videos.

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Sporting an orange peel around his eyes and walking gracefully with his slender legs, the secretary is dubbed the “most beautiful bird” in the world.

The large bird of prey inhabits sub-Saharan Africa, measuring 1-1.5 meters in length and weighing 2-4 kilograms.

It is also characterized by its grayish coat, black flight feathers and long eyelashes. Its name is said to derive from the crest of feathers on the back of the head, which evokes a feather.

Tobu Zoo in Miyashiro, Saitama Prefecture, keeps six secretary birds for display. The zoo is making efforts to breed endangered species.

When the camera was installed inside an enclosure where three zoo-born individuals were exhibited, they appeared cautious and kept away from the unknown object.

One of them eventually started plucking meat, which means he was the dominant individual.

Secretaries are fed horse and chicken meat at the zoo, but they feed on snakes and other reptiles, small mammals and insects in the wild.

When hunting, they forcefully kick their prey’s head with a force five times their own weight and stomp on it to weaken the victim before eating it.

Secretaries are also known to form monogamous couples that last a lifetime. Mated pairs are said to stay together even after their juveniles have left the nest.

Sayoko Koyama, a member of the breeding staff at Tobu Zoo in Miyashiro, Saitama Prefecture, explains the secretarial birds. (Video by Toshiyuki Takeya)


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