Ostriches – Interesting Facts
When you think of birds, you probably visualize small, charming birds chirping in your backyard. Ostrich, though, is the largest bird on the planet. It can grow 9 feet tall and weigh over 350 pounds!.
Ostriches live in the African savannah. Although they have wings, they can’t fly, but they are fantastic runners. Don’t ever try to outrun an ostrich! They can do short burst sprints up to 43 miles per hour! And they can maintain a speed of 30 miles per hour just for the fun of it.
There are two basic types of ostriches: pink-necked, pink-legged birds and bluish-necked, bluish-legged birds. Their Swahili name is Mbuni.
The ostrich is a unique looking creature. It has long skinny legs, a big body with small wings, a long neck, and a dangerous long beak. Its large body is covered with feathers. The males have black feathers with some white on the underside and tail. The females are usually grey in color. An ostrich's eyes can be nearly 2 inches in diameter giving them the largest eyes of any land animal. Their wings help them to maintain balance when running, but are mainly used for communication and courtship. Baby chicks can also find a shelter from sun and rain under an adult’s wings.
Ostriches live off of whatever they can find to eat. This includes plants, insects, and small animals like lizards. When an ostrich eats, food collects in its crop, which is at the top of the throat, until there is a big enough lump to slide down the neck. Lacking teeth, they swallow pebbles that help grind the swallowed foodstuff in the gizzard. Ostriches can go without water for a long time, however, they like water and enjoy bathing.
They often live in herds with other ostriches. A typical herd will have around ten birds, but some herds have been known to be as many as 100 birds. These herds help them stay safe as well. Each herd has one big nest where all the eggs are laid. This way the entire herd can help to protect the eggs. They have the biggest eggs of any animal. One egg can weight up to 3 pounds!
You may ask, why do they put their head in the sand? Well, they don’t do it, even if they like to show it very often in cartoons and movies. There is no evidence that ostriches do that in nature. In danger, ostriches will not hesitate to use their strong legs to kick a predator! However, in most cases they will just use their speed to outrun any threat.
In the past ostriches were hunted for their feathers, and in the 18th century, were almost hunted to extinction. Now ostrich can be farmed almost everywhere for feathers, eggs and meat. The feathers are collected during the molting season and the birds are released unharmed.
In ancient Egypt, Queen Arsinoe rode an Ostrich with a saddle. The ostrich became the emblem of Themei, the Egyptian Goddess of Truth and Justice.