Brief Overview: The Ostrich is the largest, and fastest, bird on land. Known in ancient Greek, as “Camel-Sparrow”. It is also the only living animal of its family known as Struthionidae. There are only two species of ostriches: The Common Ostrich and the Somali Ostrich.
Species and Appearance: To tell them apart, female ostriches are greyish brown while male ostriches are black and white. Among other birds the ostrich is unique, and special, in more ways than one. It is the tallest, and heaviest, of all birds in the world. It can stand up to 9 feet tall, with its long neck and legs, and weigh up to 350 pounds.
Habitats and Locations: The ostrich is always found in hot and dry areas like the savannahs, plains, and woodlands of the sub-Saharan region of Africa. The Ostrich was once known to roam the areas of Asia and the Middle East. However, they have been hunted to extinction in those areas long ago where only the African ostriches remain.
Survival and Behavior: Ostriches normally group together or stay near each other. This is called a flock which can reach up to 12 – 100 or more. Despite being a bird with a beak, and fluffy wings and feathers, it is known as a flightless bird, meaning it cannot fly. With its long, featherless legs, the ostrich can run up to 40 miles per hour. When running, the ostrich outstretches its short wings for balance as it runs. Its long legs are capable of easily moving 10 – 16 feet with a single step. If cornered and unable to run from danger, the ostrich will use its legs as weapons to kick predators away to defend itself. An ostrich kick is so strong, it has the potential to kill a lion at full strength; and it can be dangerous to humans and potentially fatal. It is the only bird in the world that has two toes on each foot with four-inch claws that can rip into the thick skin of predators or attackers. Aside from having amazing defense and stamina, a fully grown ostrich is known for having one of the strongest immune systems in the world.
Diet and Predators: This helps the animal as it is an omnivore and normally eats roots, flowers, fruit, vegetables, and seeds. However, ostriches have been known to eat insects, lizards, and small animals. Since ostriches do not have teeth, they actually swallow pebbles to grind up their food. When it does, an adult ostrich can actually swallow 2 pounds of stone in one of its 3 stomachs. While an ostrich may be naturally fast, strong, big, and healthy it does not always mean the animal is safe. Each of its abilities are to aid against its predators. Because of its speed it has to be able to run from the cheetahs or hyenas. While its kicks have to be strong enough to fight off against lions and leopards.
Breeding and Lifespan: During mating season, male ostriches compete, or fight, against each other to be in charge of the flock. When female ostriches are ready to lay their eggs, they are called hens. These females lay their eggs in a nest together with a leading female. It is also to note that all female ostriches are able to recognize their own egg despite grouping them all together. After around 40 days the eggs will begin to hatch, and ostriches actually lay the biggest eggs in the world. They can be almost six inches long and weigh around three pounds. When the baby ostrich is born it is known as a chick and is already born with feathers and can walk. After a few days of nursing, it will be able to leave the nest and follow its parents. An ostrich’s average lifespan can reach 50 years in the wild and 75 years in captivity making it the longest living bird.