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The Secretary Bird is instantly recognizable as having an eagle-like body on crane-like legs which increases the bird’s height to around 1.3 m (4 ft) tall. This 140 cm (4.5 ft) long bird has an eagle-like head with a hooked bill, but has rounded wings. Body weight averages at about 3.3 kg (7.3 lbs) and the wingspan is over 2 m (6.6 ft). Due to its long legs and long tail, it is both longer and taller than any other diurnal raptor. The neck is not especially long, and can only be lowered down to the inter-tarsal joint, so birds reaching down to the ground or drinking must stoop to do so.
The Secretary Bird is the national emblem of Sudan as well as a prominent feature on the Coat of arms of South Africa.