The Ostrich is the largest extant bird on the plants, which typically measures 6 to 9 feet or 1.8-2.7 meters in height and weighs around 140 to 290 pounds or 64 to 131 kilos.
Ostriches are large, flightless birds that boast a long neck that protrudes from their massive round body and powerful long legs that they used for running and as powerful weapons for defending themselves. Female ostriches are light brown in color. On the other hand, males possess an intense black-and-white coloring, which they use in attracting females. Their feathers appear bushy as they don’t come together and hang loosely as compared to firmer feathers of other bird species.
Their winds can span up to 2 meters, and serve a lot of purposes. They use them for mating displays, covering the upper part of their legs and flanks for heat conservation, shading their chicks, and as rudders that aid them in changing their direction when running.
Aside from being the largest bird species in the world, Ostriches also have the largest eyes among all land animals, which are 2 inches or 5 diameters in diameter. These eyes are very handy for these birds in watching their predators, such as lions, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, and wild dogs.
Moreover, ostriches are the only birds in the world that have two toes. Other birds have three to four toes. Nevertheless, this doesn’t become a disadvantage as their two-toed feet provide them incredible maneuverability and allow them to run at high speed at an average of 45 mph (72 km/h), peaking at 60 mph in short bursts.
While their legs may be seemingly thin, it can keep their massive bodies upright. Their legs are ideally placed, allowing their body to balance gravity on top of their legs.
Ostriches use their feet to fight predators. They can only kick forward, however, as it is the direction where their legs bend. Nevertheless, it packs a lot of power, and one solid kick can even kill a lion.
These large birds thrive in the woodlands and savannas of Africa. They were actually found across Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, and Africa. However, excessive hunting forced them to be confined into the area of sub-Saharan Africa. While their populations are declining, they aren’t listed as endangered. It’s also good to note that they can be found in captivity in all parts of the world.
When it comes to their diet, ostriches are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and vegetation. While they are fond of eating leaves, seeds, and roots, they also consume lizards, snakes, locusts, and rodents as part of their diet.
They have two stomachs, one used for grinding food, called the gizzard, and the other one is intended for digestion. Ostriches eat pebbles and sand to aid in crushing the food in their gizzard before it moves to the stomach. The stones and sand aren’t excreted. Although, they wear away through time and will be replaced by Ostriches instinctively. They don’t drink much water, as they get the water their body requires from the plants they consume. They only drink should they across any water hole.
Ostriches eggs can weigh up to 3 pounds or 1.3 kilos and measure 6 inches or 15 centimeters in diameters. These birds lay their eggs in a dump or communal nest, which can home up to 60 eggs at a time. Males and females interchangeably sit on the eggs. Hatching may take about 6 to 7 weeks.
At birth, an ostrich offspring can be as large as a chicken. The parents split the responsibility of taking care of the young. In case of any attack, the male lures predators away while the female takes cover for the chicks.
A chick will grow to its full size at six months and will reach maturity in 3 to 4 years. Ostriches can live about 40-45 years.
But, contrary to popular belief, an ostrich doesn’t bury its head in the sand. Instead, it lies down with its head against the ground whenever it feels any danger. It only seems like it is burying its head as the color of its head and necks blend well with the sand.