CAPE TOWN – The secretary bird, a most peculiar raptor, can be found stalking the grasslands of Africa using the vantage point provided by its stilt-like legs to scour the ground for signs of prey, with this particular specimen photographed Wednesday by an epa at a South African sanctuary.
Located in the picturesque valley of Hout Bay, Cape Town, the World of Birds is the largest bird park in Africa.
Over 3,000 birds of 400 different species are uniquely presented in over 100 spacious landscaped aviaries where visitors are able to walk through allowing intimate closeness with the birds.
The secretary bird is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular in the collection as, unlike most birds-of-prey, the species spend most of its time on two feet and stands as tall as 1.3 meters (4.3 feet) with a couple of centimeters added on when taking the crest on its head into account.
The contest for most colorful plumage, however, could be fought out between the Mandarin ducks and the golden pheasants, both native to East Asia but found as an introduced species in other areas of the world, particularly in Europe.
Mandarin ducks blend a patchwork of autumnal brown and purples dashed with metallic blues and greens while the golden pheasant, as its name suggests, boasts a regal yellow that cedes to deep crimson.
Perhaps less pretty to some is the Marabou stork, which can be found in South Africa and is sometimes referred to as the undertaker bird – its plumage somewhat resembling a long, black coat and its balding head striking a stark contrast to its body.
The World of Birds is one of Cape Town’s premier tourist attractions, welcoming more than 100,000 visitors annually.
Created by Walter Mangold in 1973 the sanctuary cares for all kinds of injured and sick birds and small animals.
With a no kill policy, every creature is taken care of on a daily basis by the 40 permanent staff members.