The ostrich bird appears to be a bizarre chimera created in a lab. The Greek philosopher Aristotle couldn’t decide whether to categorize the ostrich as a bird or a mammal when writing about it. The ostrich, on the other hand, is a member of a unique group of flightless birds that have evolved to live on the ground. Years of hunting nearly drove them extinct, but their numbers have rebounded enough that the ostrich now roams the African plains once more.
Ostrich Scientific Classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Struthioniformes
- Family: Struthionidae
- Genus: Struthio
- Scientific Name: Struthio camelus
- Ostrich Conservation Status: Least Concern
- Ostrich Locations: Africa
- Main Prey: Grass, Roots, Seeds, Flowers
- Fun Fact: The ostrich is among the largest types of birds in the world.
- Distinctive Feature: Small wings and long neck and legs
- Wingspan:5m – 2m (4.9ft – 6.5ft)
- Habitat: Desert and savanna areas
- Diet: Omnivore
- Lifestyle: Herd
- Favorite Food: Grass
- Type: Bird
- Average Clutch Size: 10
- Slogan: The largest bird in the world!
- Nesting Location: Ground
Ostrich Physical Characteristics
- Colour: Brown, Grey, Black, White, Pink
- Skin Type: Feathers
- Top Speed: 42 mph
- Lifespan: 50 – 70 years
- Weight: 63kg – 130kg (140lbs – 290lbs)
- Height:8m – 2.7m (6ft – 9ft)
4 Incredible Ostrich Facts!
- The ostrich eye is the biggest of any known land mammal, measuring about 2 inches wide.
- The fact that the ostrich is the only bird with two toes is one of the most remarkable facts. Every other bird has three or four feathers.
- As far back as ancient Egypt, Babylon, and Assyria, the ostrich bird was killed or cultivated in huge numbers for its feathers. Royalty, upper-class women, and even medieval knights wore these feathers. As hunting became less popular, more than a million ostriches were bred on farms by 1913. However, when the popularity of ostrich feathers declined, so did the farms.
- Around 20 to 25 million years ago, the first ostrich fossils were discovered. Ostrich birds had developed to the bigger size for which they are recognized about 12 million years ago. They also began to depart Africa for the rest of Eurasia about this period. These non-African species have all become extinct.
Ostrich Scientific Name
Around 20 to 25 million years ago, the first ostrich fossils were discovered. Ostrich birds had developed to the bigger size for which they are recognized about 12 million years ago. They also began to depart Africa for the rest of Eurasia about this period. These non-African species have all become extinct.
Somali ostriches, Masai ostriches, South African ostriches, and North African ostriches were all thought to be subspecies of the common ostrich. However, taxonomists determined that the Somali ostrich (also known as the blue-necked ostrich) differed sufficiently from the common ostrich to warrant it being classified as a distinct species with the scientific name Struthio molybdophanes.
The ostrich is a member of the ratite family of big flightless birds, which also includes the kiwi, emu, and rhea. The ratites were formerly thought to belong to a single order. However, genomic evidence shows that these birds belonged to different evolutionary lineages, therefore they were placed in separate orders. The ostrich is presently the sole member of its family and order that is still alive.
Ostrich vs. Emu
The emu, despite its similar look, belongs to a different order, Casuariiformes. Ostriches are larger than these Australian birds. They have a higher proclivity towards meat consumption. They also have three toes rather than two. They do, however, share several characteristics, such as a featherless neck, large claws on the feet, flightless wings, polygamous mating habits, and powerful legs capable of running at high speeds. They are an example of convergent evolution, in which two distinct lineages evolve identical characteristics in response to comparable environmental forces.
The sheer size of the ostrich distinguishes it from all other birds. The male ostrich, with its velvety black and white plumage, grows up to 9 feet tall and weighs up to 287 pounds. The female, with a height of 6 feet and a weight of 242 pounds, is much smaller. Around the main body, she and her younger chicks have more gray-brown feathers. The ostrich’s long and sinewy neck, head, and legs are virtually entirely bald, save for a thin covering of down, regardless of sex. The skin is pink or grey in hue, although the specific colors and patterns differ according to on the subspecies.
Given the ostrich’s massive size, it’s no wonder that its wings are unable to fly. According to the research, the wings (together with the tail) assist the bird in maintaining balance and courting females. The extremely soft feathers, which lack the waterproof properties of many other birds, hang loosely from the body.
Throughout the mating season, ostriches assemble in flocks of five to fifty birds, and during the rest of the year, they concentrate in smaller groups of two to five individuals. These flocks are frequently observed with other grazing species like as antelopes and zebras. However, this tolerance for other species does not necessarily extend to different flocks, since these birds will aggressively defend their area from invaders. Unlike many other birds, the ostrich can only make a loud roar and a piercing hiss, which is commonly employed by males to threaten one another.
These birds spend practically the whole day grazing and hunting for food on the African savannas, which is plentiful. Ostriches appear to have a tremendous liking for huge bodies of water, where they will wash frequently to clean themselves off, despite their ability to go for extended periods without liquids.
Ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand when threatened, contrary to common belief, although they do flatten their heads and necks flat against the ground, maybe to prevent discovery. Although the bird’s primary impulse is to flee or hide from danger, this does not mean the bird is without protection. The ostrich possesses a ferocious clawed foot that can kill a lion-sized predator.
These birds may be found in Africa’s savannas, forests, and deserts. It’s only found in a broad swath of territory stretching from Western Africa to the Horn of Africa, as well as Southern Africa. The savanna provides a brush for the ostrich to hide in on occasion. When the cover is scarce, however, the bird relies on its speed and cunning to avoid predators.
These birds have a mostly plant-based omnivore diet. This bird’s digestive tract is 46 feet long in order to extract as many nutrients as possible. It eats stones and sand along with its meal, then grinds everything up in the gizzard, a specialized organ. These birds may go for several days without drinking a drop of water. Before it has to drink again, it can lose up to a fifth of its body weight in water.
What does the ostrich eat?
Seeds, grass, fruits, and flowers make up the bird’s food. Insects, reptiles, and another flesh leftover by carnivores are occasionally used to augment this.
Ostrich Predators and Threats
Human hunting has been the greatest threat to these birds. The hunt for its feathers nearly drove the ostrich to extinction in the 18th century. As ostrich farming got increasingly popular, part of the attraction of this technique faded. The ostrich is still threatened by hunting, habitat degradation, and possibly predation.
What eats the ostrich?
Despite its enormous size, the bird is threatened by lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, and African hunting dogs, among other animals. Vultures, warthogs, and mongooses are among the predators that raid nests for eggs. Most predators, with the exception of the cheetah, are unable to keep up with the ostrich’s incredible speed, so they lie in wait to attack the unwary bird.
Ostrich Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan
Each year’s breeding season runs from March through September. The male performs an intricate dance in which he seems to bend to the ground and shake his feathers, one wing at a time, while his tail bobs up and down. For the female to assess, the dance is meant to be a demonstration of the male’s strength and health. The most territorial male will mate with flocks of three to five hens at a time, but only with the most dominant hen will he develop a pair bond. Other men will also get a chance to mate with the remaining females.
The fertilized females will collectively deposit their eggs in a shared nest. The dominant hen incubates her eggs in the middle of the nest, giving them the highest chance of survival, but all of the eggs have a greater chance of survival than if they were incubated separately. Each female bird may lay seven to ten eggs at a time, but the shared nest has the capacity to store up to 60 eggs. These eggs are the biggest of any species on the earth, weighing more than 3 pounds. They’re around the size of dinosaur eggs. The nest is guarded alternately by males and females. During the day, the ladies of the group keep an eye on it, while the males take over at night.
The chicks will emerge from the eggs with a stiff down, approximately about the same size as a chicken, after a 42 to 46-day incubation period. The parents will carry the chicks beneath their wings after they leave the nest to shield them from the harsh sunshine or rain. When threatened, the male will make a show of loud sounds and an extended neck to divert the attacker, while the females and chicks try to find shelter.
The baby bird develops fast, and by the time it is six months old, it is about the same size as the adults. They mature sexually after three to four years, which is a long time in comparison to most birds. These birds have a normal lifetime of 30 to 40 years in the wild and 50 years in captivity.
The common ostrich is classified as a species of least concern by the IUCN Red List, but the Somali ostrich is considered endangered. Both species appear to be declining slightly in numbers, with just about 150,000 ostriches remaining in the wild. The Arabian ostrich (a subspecies of the common ostrich) became extinct in the twentieth century when motor vehicles made hunting easier.
Ostriches in the Zoo
In the United States, these birds are one of the most popular zoo displays. It can be found at the North Carolina Zoo, the Detroit Zoo, the San Diego Zoo, Zoo Atlanta, the Maryland Zoo, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, the Saint Louis Zoo, the San Francisco Zoo, the Indianapolis Zoo, the Houston Zoo, the LA Zoo, and pretty much any other major zoo in the country.