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Ostrich (Struthio camelus)

Ostrich is a bird of the Ostriches order. It is the largest existing bird today.



By the first decade of the 20th century, ostriches were widespread in many parts of Africa and southwest Asia. Now in the wild they are found only in certain parts of East Africa. Nowadays, there are lots of ostriches in ostrich farms in South Africa and South Australia.


General information

Besides being the largest existing bird, the ostrich is also the only member of the Ostriches family. The ostriches are of the oldest birds living on Earth today and are in the group of flightless birds called "ratites". Ostriches are nomads. They are the only birds that have two digits on their feet, with well-developed claws, which are their main weapons for self-defense. By chest-bumping the opponent, ostriches kick powerfully forward and their claws can cause severe injuries. The strong thigh and shin muscles combined with the highly elongated tibia and tarsus allow them to reach speed of up to 70 km/h when running.

The large male ostrich reaches 2.5 m in height and weighs about 135 kg. The body feathers of the male ostrich are black, while the wings and rump are white and black. The females are smaller and have grey-brown feathers. In both sexes the head seems small compared to the rest body of the bird.

In the wild, humans hardly get close to them, except in the reserves, where the birds are used to humans. The birds have large brown eyes; their upper eyelids have thin feathers that look like long eyelashes, aiming to protect them from the strong desert sun. They have exceptional vision. In open fields, the ostrich's long neck and small head act as a periscope, turning to all sides for a continuous monitoring of the field, while its large body remains hidden behind bushes and rocks. Safety-seeking animals, such as zebras use the sharpness of these glances indirectly.



Ostriches live up to 70 years and spend their gregarious lives in small scattered flocks. The wild bird reaches sexual maturity at the age of 4 - in a farm at the age of 2 to 3. They can mate all year round, but the peak season is from spring to summer. During mating, the male moves aside with one or more females to perform the courtship ritual. The female does not lay eggs until the male digs a hole in the ground. All the females lay the eggs in this hole until they are 10-15 and then the male and senior female incubate them for 6 weeks. In nature, the male is a very good father and very caring for the chicks.



Ostriches eat mainly plants. They accept various fruit and seeds, as well as leaves and shoots of shrubs, creepers and succulents. They also eat small invertebrates and vertebrates, such as lizards. They swallow large seeds and pebbles, helping the digestion of solid food.