Ostriches are the largest birds in the world. The ostrich weighs on average 140-250 lb (63.5-131.5 kg) and is 6-9 feet (1.8-2.7 meters) tall. The ostrich is native to the African continent, however, despite this, it is one of the most famous birds in the world. The African ostrich became famous for its unusual appearance and excellent adaptability to life in local biotopes.Until the 20th century, wild ostriches inhabited Africa, southwest Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. Today, wild ostriches live only in the desert regions of Africa.
The eyes are relatively large, as are the long and thick eyelashes, which are located exclusively on the uppereyelid. The bird sees perfectly. The external auditory openings are clearly visible on the head, which in appearance resemble neat and small ears, since the plumage in this area is very weak.
The plumage of males is black with white feathers in the tail and at the ends of the wings. Females are gray in color with white feathers at the ends of the tail and wing. The head and neck of an ostrich have no plumage. The ostrich lacks the ability to fly due to underdeveloped pectoral muscles and underdeveloped wings. The paw of the African ostrich has two toes, one of which is larger and has a keratinized end that serves as a support when the bird walks and runs. The ostrich is an extremely strong animal and can be easily ridden!
The nature and lifestyle of the common ostrich
Ostriches prefer to live next to zebras and antelopes, so they move together in a certain area. Ostriches are quite tall and have excellent eyesight, so they are the first to notice an approaching danger. It helps other animals respond in a timely manner to approaching predators. In case of danger, ostriches make loud noises, and also begin to run away, reaching speeds of up to 40 mph (70 km / h).
What do ostriches eat?
Ostriches are omnivorous birds. Their usual diet may include flowers, seeds, plants, insects, rodents, small turtles, and animal meat that has not been eaten by predators. Since ostriches lack teeth, they swallow small stones for good digestion, which contribute to crushing and grinding food in the stomach. Ostriches are able not to consume water for a long time, since the bulk of the liquid is obtained from eaten plants.
Reproduction of ostriches
The common ostrich is a polygamous bird. Ostriches keep in groups of 5-6 birds, one of them is males, the rest are females. During mating, the male performs an unusual ritual – sits on his feet, rhythmically flaps his wings, throws his head back and rubs his head against his back. Then the ritual of pursuing the female is performed. The male digs a small hole in his area, which will become the basis of the future nest. Several females lay eggs in one hole. All care for the offspring falls on the shoulders of the male. The ostrich is a fairly large bird, and the male can incubate up to 20 eggs – a common thing. The male usually incubates eggs at night, and during the day they are warmed by the sun or one of the females. Soon after hatching from eggs, chicks from different nests gather in large herds under the guidance of 2-3 adult birds.For a long time, young ostriches remain a tasty prey for predators, the mortality rate among them is quite high.
During this period, ostriches become very brave and aggressive. When a threat arises to young ostriches, they fearlessly run to the enemy and rush into battle. They fight with their feet. The blow is very powerful and can kill any predator. Therefore, not every predator decides to meet with this bird.
Having reached 3 years of age, young ostriches reach sexual maturity. The maximum lifespan is 75 years, and on average ostriches live 30-40 years.
Population and status of the species
Back in the 19th century, people began to practice keeping ostriches in captivity, creating special farms. This made it possible, in the face of a sharp decline in the total number of ostriches, to preserve the population of these flightless birds. Today in dozens of countries there are special farms where ostriches are bred.
Farms made it possible not only to preserve the ostrich population, but also to obtain expensive feathers and leather, as well as meat that tastes like beef. Due to the fact that ostriches are massively kept in captivity, the risk of their disappearance from the natural environment is minimal.