The ostrich is a large, flightless bird. It is, in fact, the largest living bird on earth. When full grown, the bird weighs over 250 pounds and stands 98 inches tall. The male ostriches have soft black feathers on its back with white primary feathers on its wings and tail, making him easy to spot.
Females and all young ostriches have brownish feathers instead of black to help camouflage them. Both males and females have bare necks and thighs. This skin is blue or pink in males and pinkish gray in females. They both have long, mobile necks, small heads, large eyes, long, powerful legs, and two toes on each foot. Their voice is either a loud hiss or a booming roar.
Ostriches eat shoots, leaves, flowers and seeds. While they are eating, they raise their heads often to look for predators.
Ostriches live in the flat areas of Africa that receive low amounts of rainfall.
Ostrich chicks have many predators, including the Egyptian vulture, the hyena and the jackal. Only 15 percent of chicks make it to their first birthday, despite having protection from their parents.
Ostriches are not extremely social birds. Most live alone, and those that do travel in packs are not very cohesive.
Birth & Offspring
Ostriches nest in the dry season. The male ostrich makes several shallow scrapes in his territory. The lead female then lays up to 12 eggs over the next 3 weeks. Other females may lay eggs in this same nest, but only the male and lead female will guard and incubate the eggs. The incubation period is six weeks.
Despite the constant watch of the male and female, less than 10 percent of the eggs will hatch. Those that do are fully developed when hatched. They are fawn-colored with dark brown spots and a cape of bristly down on the back. By the time they are one year old, they will reach their full height. Ostriches live to be 40 years old or more.
Ostriches have great vision and, because of their strong legs, can run at 31 miles per hour. Contrary to cartoons and comic strips, ostriches do not bury their head in the sand.
Lydia King is a huge animal lover and has always been fascinated with learning about the animal kingdom. She enjoys writing about anything animal related from scientific information about rare species to animal references in pop culture.