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Secretary Bird

>jamolnar@juno.com wrote: One extant bird of prey _is_ a ground-based
>runner: the Secretary Bird of
>> Africa.  I don't know the status of its talons, though.  My guess is they
>> are blunted.
>> Judy Molnar
>> Education Associate, Virginia Living Museum
>> vlmed@juno.com
>> jamolnar@juno.com
>> All questions are valid; all answers are tentative
>>Thanks Judy.I'm glad somebody brought this up.Didn't someone on this list
>>post a message (I'm sure it's somewhere in the archives) about the
>>Secretary Bird? I seem to remember the author of the message saying that
>>these beasties had a smaller version of dromaeosaur type claw.And then a
>>line about seeing tracks that showed the bird actually held the claw off
>>the ground while walking.I know I've seen film of them preying on snakes
>>by basically running up and stomping (slashing?) them with those feet but
>>the feet were hard to see clearly.If anyone has good current information
>>on these birds please jump in "share it with the class".>G<....Thanks,
>>Sean C.

Well after a long search I found one picture of a secretary bird.  The feet
show clearly, and one is actually weighted...conveniently. The slashing
claw is in fact very much raptorian looking, and on the weighted foot it
appears to be just above, or just on the ground ( it's not a real closeup).
The animal appears to be in mid walk because the unweighted foot is almost
completely vertical,the slashing claw is in almost the same position in
relation to the weighted foot (I don't know if that makes sense).

A birds bill is constantly in use but a constant regrowth keeps it sharp,
perhaps the claw sheaths just grew at a faster rate than most ( has there
been a raptor claw sheath found, how sharp is it?)  Can muscle scars tell
us anything?