Endemic to Africa, it is usually found in the open grasslands and savannah of the sub-Saharan. Although a member of the order Accipitriformes, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, hawks, vultures, and harriers, it is given its own family, Sagittariidae.
It appears on the coats of arms of Sudan and South Africa.
The secretary bird is instantly recognizable as a very large bird with an eagle-like body on crane-like legs which increases the bird’s height to as much as 1.3 m (4.3 ft) tall. This bird has an eagle-like head with a hooked bill, but has rounded wings.
From a distance or in flight it resembles a crane more than a bird of prey. The tail has two elongated central feathers that extend beyond the feet during flight, as well as long flat plumage creating a posterior crest.
Secretary birds are endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa and are non-migratory, though they may follow food sources. Their range extends from Mauritania to Somalia and south to the Cape of Good Hope. These birds are also found at a variety of elevations, from the coastal plains to the highlands and occasionally spotted around Sibuya Game Reserve.
Secretary birds prefer open grasslands and savannas rather than forests and dense shrubbery which may impede their cursorial existence. While the birds roost on the local Acacia trees at night, they spend much of the day on the ground, returning to roosting sites just before dark.
Secretarybirds specialize in stomping their prey until the prey is killed or immobilized. This method of hunting is commonly applied to lizards or snakes.
Prey may consist of insects, mammals ranging in size from mice to hares and mongoose, crabs, lizards, snakes, tortoises, young birds, bird eggs, and sometimes dead animals killed in grass or bush fires.