When the secretary bird puts its foot down, it puts its foot down. Hard.
The species, which lives on open grasslands in Africa, hunts snakes and other small animals, and researchers have found that it can stomp and kill prey with a force equal to five times its body weight.
That’s quite a force for a bird with legs that look thin and weak.
Researchers conducted tests on a male secretary bird named Madeleine at the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Hampshire, U.K. The scientists trained Madeleine to attack a rubber snake and measured his stomp force using a force plate underneath.
Not only was the strike harder than expected, it was fast, as well. The average time it took for the bird to strike the snake with its feet was 15 milliseconds.
Dr. Steve Portugal, lead researcher on the project from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, says, “The exceptionally rapid strike contact duration is a tenth of the time it takes to blink an eye, which takes around 150 milliseconds.”