What Is It?
Being the largest among the extant bird species on planet Earth, the Ostrich lays the largest eggs in the world too. While it cannot fly, its incredible speed makes up for this lack of ability. Its agility is handy when pursuing intruders in its nest or when running away from its predators. These flightless birds live in the hot, dry African woodlands and savanna. They were existent in Asia Minor before. However, excessive hunting led to their extinction in the said region.
Only a few predators prey on ostriches as these birds are blessed with one of the most powerful pairs of legs in the animal kingdom – not to mention that it has claws, one on each foot. Their long, brawny legs allow ostriches to cover 10 up to 16 in one stride and serve as formidable weapons. One kick can kill any human or predators like cheetahs and lions.
Ostriches are generally timid and don’t go on aggressive mode as they depend on leaves and seeds for food more than anything else (they can consume almost anything.) But, they go hawkish whenever they feel danger or when any predator tries to steal its large eggs.
Ostriches produce the largest eggs among all living bird species in the world. On average, the eggs measure around 13 meters wide and up to 15 centimeters long and weighs over 1.4 kilograms. However, the largest ostrich egg on record came from a farm owned by Gunnar and Kerstin Sahlin in Borlange, Sweden, on May 17, 2008. The egg weighed a whopping 2.589 kilos!
While the Ostrich lays the largest eggs among extant species of birds, it’s relative, the Elephant Bird of Madagascar would dwarf the size of the Ostrich egg, should it have not become extinct. Elephant Bird eggs measured 24 centimeters wide and 33 meters long, seemingly doubling that of an Ostrich.
The extinct flightless birds are close-relatives of other ground species, including cassowaries, rheas, moas, and kiwis. They thrived on the Madagascar island until the 1600s. However, they became extinct by the 1700s, most likely as a result of human activity and hunting for food. After examining their DNA, it was found that they are more related to the Kiwis – the bird that lays the largest egg in proportion to its body size.
While the Kiwis is not one of the biggest birds in size, it produces the largest egg in the world when compared to the body ratio. Truth to be told, their effs are six times bigger than a normal egg laid by a bird of its size. Though the Ostrich lay the largest egg, it only accounts for 2% of her body weight, making it the smallest in relation to the mother. But, Kiwi eggs make up almost 20% of the species’ weight, and it can even lay up to 100 eggs in the course of her life. Female Kiwis have to eat three times per usual to cover and produce such a large egg.
Of course, laying takes a lot of effort and is painful for the Kiwis. However, it provides them with many benefits. Kiwi eggs also contain the largest amount of yolk than any bird egg. It is made up of 65% yolk compared to 35-40% from other bird species. Their chicks hatch with a huge yolk sac, which they use to sustain themselves for the first few weeks of their life. Through that, Kiwi parents no longer need to feed their newly-hatched offspring.
Kiwis are endemic to New Zealand. These flightless birds are timid and very shy and are known to thrive in deep burrows. Kiwis boast unique adaptations, such as hair-like feathers, stout legs, and nostrils at the end of their beak to help them find and detect their prey. These natural adaptations plus their ability to produce large eggs, made them renowned internationally and also resulted in New Zealanders being regarded as ‘Kiwis.’
Eggs in Culture
For most people, eggs are part of our daily diet. No wonder as eggs provide around 6 grams of protein and are also a potent source of other nutrients, such as choline that helps liver function and metabolism, and vitamin D, which aids the immune system and promotes bone health. To help you reap such benefits, here are egg cooking and kitchen tools for you.