ostrich (Struthio Camelus) is the tallest and heaviest of all birds, it is a large flightless bird found only in the open field in Africa.

Species

The ostrich is typical of a group of flightless birds fast calls, what makes them land animals, do not air. Populations of ostriches that differ slightly in skin color, size, and egg characteristics were previously considered separate species, but are now considered simply breeds of Struthio camelus.

The ostrich is the only living species in the genus Struthio. Ostriches are the only members of the family Struthionidae in the order Struthioniformes, a group that also contains kiwis, emus, casuarios and rhea. The oldest fossil relatives of ostriches belong to the species Calciavis grandei, which were excavated in the Green River Formation in Wyoming and date to the Eocene epoch, between 56 and 34 million years ago.

Features

Although it is a huge bird, it does not fly, instead it runs. One stride can cover up to 4.9 meters (about the length of a midsize family car). It can run a little over 64 miles per hour for a short distance, and it can maintain a speed of over 48 miles per hour for longer distances. The ostrich uses its short wings for balance, keeping them extended when running. Strong legs can also be used for self defense. An ostrich will kick with a force powerful enough to kill a Lion.

The ostrich is a bird that can and will defend itself if it feels in danger.
The ostrich is a bird that can and will defend itself if it feels in danger.

It is the largest living bird in the world for a reason, an adult male can be 2,75 meters tall (Almost half its height is neck) and weighs more than 150 kg; the female is somewhat smaller.

El ostrich's egg, averaging 150mm long by 125mm in diameter and around 1,35kg, it is also the largest in the world.

The male is mostly black, but has white feathers on its wings and tail; females are mostly brown in color. The head and most of the neck, reddish to bluish, are slightly lowered; the legs, including the powerful thighs, are bare. The head is small, the bill short and quite wide; the big brown eyes have thick black lashes.

Behavior

When danger approaches, an ostrich often hides, stretching its neck along the ground. Its feather colors blend in with the sandy soil where it lives. From afar, it appears that the ostrich has buried its head in the sand. Many people thought that was what ostriches did when they tried to hide, but that is a myth. Ostriches live near grazing animals such as wildebeest, antelope, and zebra. Grazing animals agitate insects and rodents for ostriches to eat, and ostriches warn grazers of dangers such as approaching lions.

A group of ostriches, called a flock, has about 12 individuals. Males compete for control of a group of several females. A herd has a dominant male and a dominant female. It only mates with her, although it can also mate with other females. All laying females, called hens, lay their eggs in the dominant female's nest. Then that female - whose eggs are placed in the center of the nest, the most well protected place - and her partner take care of all the eggs in that nest. Each egg can be up to 15 centimeters long and weigh 1.5 kilograms.

they are seen individually, in pairs, in small flocks, or in large groups, depending on the season of the year. The ostrich relies on its strong two-toed legs, with the main toe developed almost like a hoof, to escape its enemies, primarily humans and larger carnivores. A frightened ostrich can reach a speed of 72,5 miles per hour. If he is cornered, he can deliver dangerous kicks.

Habitat

These towering birds live in sandy and arid habitats, especially in the open country. Common environments for these birds include savannas, forests, desert, plains, semi-deserts, dry grasslands, and scrublands. These birds are also prevalent in environments that are completely devoid of trees. They bathe and swim frequently, and usually stay in areas that are not far from reliable bodies of water. Some of these birds live in solitude, while others are part of units of between 5 and 50 ostriches.

Distribution

red necked ostrich o Sahara ostrich (S. camelus camelus), which goes from Morocco to Sudan, in a very small number. They also live in eastern and southern Africa.

syrian ostrich (S. camelus syriacus) from Syria and Arabia which became extinct in 1941.

Food

Its omnivorous birds who consume a mixture of meat and forage plants, although they tend to prefer the latter. Some common elements of the ostrich diet are fallen fruits, seeds, bushes, shoots, gourds, dry and hard foliage, frogs, roots, plants, turtles, little lizards e insects as grasshopper. They sometimes feed on rotting carcasses killed by other animals, without having to do the dirty work themselves. In terms of fruit, they eat a lot of wild figs and berries.

They often manage their hydration needs through the consumption of plants. Because of that, they can survive for long periods of time without drinking water, about two to three days or so.

Diet in captivity

The who live in captivity, like zoos, have very different food sources than their wild counterparts. Birds living in captivity often consume diets full of components such as alfalfa, hay, commercial pellets, grains, and fresh vegetables.

Predators

There are a variety of predators that can chase the ostrich, although many of them go after the eggs because they are so large. They may include Jackal, Vulture y Mongoose.

For ostriches of any size, although there are quite a few different predators that you have to pay attention to and always be on the lookout for are included cheetahs, leones, leopards, hyenas y african wild dogs. The ostrich has very good senses, including sight and hearing. They use those defenses to help them hide from predators or to be able to run very fast from them.

Although they have great senses to rely on, the ostrich is in some pretty tough territory with wild cats. They are very patient and very good hunters. It doesn't take a lot of energy to crouch down and wait for a chance to jump. They are also very fast and when paired with powerful legs it is a very serious match.

The ostrich, however, is a fierce protector of its eggs and of others. They have very powerful legs and will fight if necessary. They have been able to keep large predators, including lions, away. They have sharp claws that allow them to fight if necessary. Most of the time they will run if they can because of their great speed.

The specific types of predators an ostrich will have depends on where it lives. In nature it can be a mix of different predators. On farms there can be problems with wild dogs and cats. They can enter the fences where the ostrich is kept. In many areas the natural habitat of these predators has been depleted, so they do what they have to do to survive.

The human They can also be predators of this great bird. This is very true in Africa, where villagers depend on the eggs and meat of these wild birds for their own survival. No matter what type of predators are involved, the ostrich generally does not get the recognition it deserves when it comes to self defense. They are powerful and will do everything they can to ensure their own survival.

A flock of female ostrich. They can live in very small or very large flocks.
A flock of female ostrich. They can live in very small or very large flocks.

It is rare for an ostrich to attack a human, but they have been seen to do so. They have even been seen pecking while driving jeeps through rugged terrain. The aggressive nature of any ostrich will increase when it feels in danger. This is especially true if there are eggs around that they are trying to protect.

Predators are more likely to hunt an ostrich when they live alone or when they live in pairs. When they are in a herd there will be at least 5 of them, but there can be up to 50 of them. This means they have a better chance of being alert and able to disperse before a predator can reach them.

Reproduction

Male in heat emit lion-like roars and hisses as they fight for a flock of three to five females.

A communal nest scraped on the ground contains more than a dozen shiny, whitish eggs. The oldest female in the flock can shed some of the eggs to make incubation more manageable and easy. The male sits on the eggs at night; females take turns during the day. The chicks hatch in about 40 days and when they are one month old they can keep up with the adults.

Ostrich cubs are larger than any other baby bird. At hatching, chicks can be as large as chickens. Males and females share the responsibility of caring for the young. During an attack, the male tries to keep the predator away from the chicks as they run for cover with the female.

A baby ostrich.
A baby ostrich.

At six months, a chick is almost fully mature; at three or four years, it will reach maturity. A ostrich can live from 50 to 75 years.

State of conservation

According to the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), most ostrich subspecies are not endangered, although their populations are declining. The Somali ostrich is classified as vulnerable, although its population is unknown. They are believed to be in rapid decline.

Curiosities

Does the ostrich bury its head?

To avoid detection, both chickens and adults can lie on the ground with their necks extended, a habit that may have led to the mistaken belief that the ostrich buries its head in the sand when danger threatens.

Aesthetic uses and fun

Ostrich feathers adorned the helmets of medieval European knights, and in the XNUMXth century these feathers were sold for the refinement of women. This demand led to the establishment of ostrich farms in South Africa, the southern United States, Australia, and elsewhere, but the trade collapsed after the First World War. Ostriches are now raised for their meat and skin, which provides them with soft, fine-grained leather.

The birds have been trained for saddle and sulky races, but they tire easily and are not well prepared for training. They do well in captivity and can live for 50 years.

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