Monday, September 5, 2011

The rare song of the Secretary Bird

Here is a rare photograph of a Secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) in the wild, taken by Yoky on 25 June 2008, at Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.

Hearing the song* of the Secretary bird is even rarer.

*song (sɒŋ), n., [Old English sang; related to Gothic saggws, Old High German sang; see sing] 1. (a) a piece of music, usually employing a verbal text, composed for the voice, especially one intended for performance by a soloist; (b) the whole repertory of such pieces; (c) (as modifier): a song book. 2. poetical composition; poetry. 3. the characteristic tuneful call or sound made by certain birds or insects. 4. the act or process of singing: they raised their voices in song. 5. for a song at a bargain price. 6. informal (Brit.) on song performing at peak efficiency or ability. songlike, — adj. (from The New World English Dictionary)

Today the readers of the rhymeswithplague blog have an opportunity that usually occurs only a few times in the lives of very few people, the opportunity to hear the song of the Secretary bird. Count yourselves among the fortunate.

Click here (1:51).


  1. I have seen a Secretary Bird when we were in South Africa, although a some distance, so I didn't manage to get a photograph.

    We were told that it kills its prey (snakes) by kicking them at up to 20 times a second, hitting in precisely the same spot.

    The Typewriter tune was a regular on Children's Favourites, a Saturday morning radio show of my youth in the UK.

    But until reading this post, I hadn't realised that the typewriter is considered a percussion instrument.

  2. I have a seen a Secretary Bird in our Atlanta Zoo. It was larger than one might imagine from the photograph.

    Anything that makes a sound when struck or hit can be considered a percussion instrument, I think, unless it is your poor old Aunt Matilda. She should call the police.

  3. I too remember the typewriter song, but loved this version;it takes considerable skill and discipline to mime something with such accuracy and dexterity and the gentleman's facial expressions are wonderful. ♥

  4. beautiful and rather worrying
    thank god my chickens have short legs...
    I would never catch this bugger!

  5. Elizabeth, Jerry Lewis can be goofy! Here's the song on a recording, without all the added histrionics!

    John Gray (friend of Yorkshire Pudding), welcome to the blog! (I don't think you have commented before, but if you have, shame on me for not remembering.) There is something of a chaparral (road runner)-like quality to the Secretary Bird, isn't there, as though he's ready to dart away in a flash?

  6. Lovely - now that's how I remember it. When we finally got electricity (about 1968), mam acquired a brown and cream bakelite wireless which was only ever turned on on Sunday mornings whilst she prepared the Yorkshires and veg, principally for the Archers omnibus, but sometimes we heard snippets of 'Two-way Family Favourites' which was scheduled after it and this was a popular request. I'm still an Archers fan.♥

  7. Reckon I've missed a grand experience. My speakers are on strike.