This vintage drawing is of a most interesting African bird – the secretarybird. The Secretarybird is quite distinct with black feather protruding from the back of its head. It has feathers only on the half top of its legs making it look as if it were wearing knickers. They can grow up to 4 feet tall and just under 10 pounds. Their wingspan averages 75-87 inches. While it looks like he’s a type of crane or heron, he’s actually a bird of prey.
This particular secretarybird was a pet on an ostrich farm – his name was Jacob. He became quite tame and followed the family around much like a loyal dog. Secretary birds are thought to prey on snakes yet this particular bird was quite terrified of a dried puff-adder’s skin. He also made a number of quite-human like sounds when he wanted attention.
This bird drawing adorned the cover of the 1891 book Home Life on an Ostrich Farm, written by Annie Martin.
This image is copyright free and in the public domain anywhere that extends copyrights 70 years after death or at least 120 years after publication when the original illustrator is unknown.