Ode to the Ostrich

When threatened, ostriches run although their powerful, long legs can be formidable weapons, capable of killing a human or a potential predator like a lion with a forward kick.

Type: Bird
Diet: Omnivore
Lifespan: Average life span in the wild
Size: 1.8 to 2.75 m
Weight: Up to 155kg
Habitat: Savannah and desert
Range: Native to Africa
Scientific name: Struthio camelus

Ostrich characteristics

Ostrich facts

Ostrich behaviors

Ostriches' running is aided by having just two toes on each foot (most birds have four), with the large nail on the larger, inner toe resembling a hoof.

Ostriches' wings reach a span of about 2 metres and are used in mating displays, to shade chicks, to cover the naked skin of the upper legs and flanks to conserve heat, and as "rudders" to help them change direction while running.

Ostriches normally spend the winter months in pairs or alone and during breeding season and sometimes during extreme rainless periods they live in nomadic herds of five to 50 birds led by a top hen, that often travel together with other grazing animals, such as zebras or antelopes.

Territorial fights between males for a harem of two to seven females usually last just minutes, but they can easily cause death through slamming their heads into opponents.

Ostriches perform a complex mating ritual consisting of the male alternating wing beats until he attracts a female, when they will go to the mating area and then he will drive away all intruders.

All of the herd's hens place their eggs in the dominant hen’s 3m-wide nest, though her own are given the prominent centre place; each female can determine her own eggs amongst others.