African ostrich: description and interesting facts

African ostrich: description and interesting facts
African ostrich: description and interesting facts

The largest bird in the world is the African ostrich. And I must say that these birds grow really impressive sizes. An adult ostrich can be up to 2.7 m tall, and at the same time it will weigh about 156 kg. But not only the large size of the ostrich attracts attention to him, but also his manner of courting a lady, hatching, and then raising offspring, and a lot of other interesting features.

We will tell you more about ostriches and their habits in this article.

ostrich african

Where and how do African ostriches settle down

The African ostrich lives on a hot continent in the savannah and semi-desert region, on both sides of the equator. All his life, the male remains faithful to one dominant female. But since, despite this, he is a polygamist, his family includes, as a rule, several more representatives of the weaker sex, among whom he singles out his “lady of the heart”. And so the ostrich family walks along the savannah: a male, a dominant female, several females in rank andostriches.

You can often see how these beautiful birds graze with zebras or antelopes, making long transitions with them across the plains. Artiodactyls do not drive them away, because, thanks to their excellent eyesight and high growth, they can see a moving predator at a great distance - up to 5 km.

In case of danger, emitting a warning sound, this huge bird takes to its heels (and the speed of an ostrich in case of danger reaches 70 km/h). The herd, warned by the bird, also rushes in all directions. So having such a sentinel herbivore is very beneficial!

ostrich speed in case of danger

A little about the strength of an ostrich

The ostrich prefers not to face danger, but it cannot be considered cowardly, because if the bird still has to face a lion or other attacker, in battle it shows itself as a brave warrior. Strong ostrich legs are an excellent weapon. One blow from such a limb is enough to severely injure, or even kill a lion or break a thick tree trunk.

No, the ostrich bird does not hide its head in the sand. She simply prudently walks away from danger, and even then only during the non-breeding period. And during nesting or if it is impossible to avoid a collision, it meets everything like a real warrior. The ostrich fluffs its feathers and begins to move towards the enemy, and if he is not lucky enough to escape, he will be trampled! This is probably why all predators try to avoid meeting this bird, because they keep a respectful distance from the ostrich.

Ostrich is a flightless bird

The ostrich cannot fly - this is a well-known fact. That's what nature intended. He has poorly developed muscles in the thoracic region, wings are underdeveloped, and ostrich feathers, curly and loose, do not form tightly closed rigid plates-fans. His skeleton is not pneumatic.

But this bird runs faster than a horse! Its long, two-toed legs are well adapted for walking long distances and for running. Already at the age of one month, the speed of an ostrich can reach 50 km / h. A running ostrich takes steps, each up to 4 m long and, if necessary, can make a sharp turn without slowing down, and even spread out on the ground.

By the way, how many fingers an African ostrich has, it helps him a lot in the process of walking. The fingers of the bird are flattened, equipped with pads on the sole. In addition, there are only two of them, and they are very similar in appearance to the soft hoof of a camel. No wonder the word "ostrich" is translated from Greek as "camel sparrow." The larger of the bird's fingers is equipped with something similar to both a claw and a hoof - the bird leans on it while running.

how many fingers does an african ostrich have

What an African ostrich looks like

What an African ostrich looks like is probably no secret to anyone - it is a dense bird with a long, featherless neck, which is topped with a flattened small head with large eyes and a beak.

The beak is soft, decorated with a keratinized growth on the upper beak. You can not ignore the huge eyes of the ostrich, pubescent with long eyelashes. Each of them, by the way, has a volume equal to the brain of this bird.

In malesthe plumage is brighter than that of females, which are decorated with gray-brown feathers with dirty white tips on the tail and wings. And their cavaliers can boast of black tailcoats with bright white feathers on the wings and tail.

Different subspecies of the African ostrich differ mainly in the color of the neck, legs, size and some biological features: the number of eggs in the nest, the presence or absence of litter, and the structure of the eggshell.

African black ostriches

How an ostrich creates a harem for himself

During the mating season, the current African ostrich creates a harem for itself. He spreads his wings, fluffs his feathers and slowly kneels down. Then she throws her head back and rubs it against her back - such a “gypsy” does not leave indifferent females who allow themselves to be covered and become members of the same family.

True, in this harem there will be one "first lady" - a dominant female, which the ostrich chooses once and for life. And the rest of the females from the harem can change from time to time. The “First Lady”, of course, does not forget to periodically demonstrate who is the boss here, giving a thrashing to her comrades-in-arms.

In the family of ostriches, one can easily determine the rank of each. The father of the family walks ahead, followed by his “lady of the heart” with his head held high, and then, bending their heads, go the rest of the females and cubs.

The speed of an ostrich is not its only feature

The ostriches lay their eggs in one nest, which the male will dig in the ground or sand. As a result, up to 30 of them are recruited there, andostriches living in East Africa, and up to 60. True, the dominant female makes sure that her eggs are located in the center of the clutch, and the rest are around. This is how the law of survival through numbers works.

An ostrich egg is the largest in the world (it is 24 times larger than a chicken), but if you compare it with the size of the hen itself, then it is the smallest! What an incident!

Dominant ostrich sits on the masonry during the day. It serves as a kind of conditioner for eggs, preventing them from being cooked in 50-degree heat. And at night, the male climbs on them to save them from hypothermia.

ostrich egg

How ostriches develop

Black African ostriches are born after 40 days strong, covered with brownish bristles sticking out in all directions, and chicks weigh, as a rule, about 1.2 kg. They very quickly learn to figure out how and what to eat, and after a couple of months they change their down to the same feathers as their mother, but do not leave their family for another 2 years.

True, if the paths of two families with ostriches cross in the savannah, then each of them will try to capture the kids for themselves and attach them to their brood. Because of this, there are families where up to 300 cubs of different ages are recruited.

A year later, the ostrich is ready for independence, but for some time he will live with his brothers and sisters in the same flock. Until the time comes for him to dance his amazing mating dance in front of the lady.

An emu is not an ostrich

Now let's move from Africa to Australia. On thison the continent and on the island of Tasmania, the emu bird, very similar to the African ostrich, lives. Until the 80s of the last century, she was considered a relative of ostriches. But then their classification was revised, and now they belong to the order Cassowaries.

ostrich Emu

After the ostrich, it is the second largest bird. In height, it grows up to 180 cm, and weighs up to 55 kg. And outwardly, the emu resembles the described bird, although the body is more laterally compressed and looks stocky, and the legs and neck are shorter, which, by the way, makes a completely different impression.

The emu (we will call it that in the old fashioned way) has a black-brown color of feathers, and its head and neck are black. Only specialists can distinguish a male from a female in these birds, and even then during the mating season.

Emu can run too

The emu has an atypical feather cover that helps the bird to be active even in the midday heat. His feathers have a hair-like structure and look like wool. Therefore, if the body of an emu, decorated with long feathers, looks like a live shock, then on the neck and head of the bird they are curly and short.

Like the African ostrich, it has rather long strong legs. Only in emu they are armed not with two, but with three three-phalangeal fingers. The speed of an ostrich in case of danger reaches 50 km / h, but the bird's talents are not limited to this. She still floats well and, despite her weight, can swim quite long distances.

ostrich speed

How emus breed

Emus eat mostlyplant foods - grass, roots, berries and seeds. True, in moments of hunger, birds do not disdain insects. Since emus do not have teeth, they, like African ostriches, are forced to swallow small pebbles so that food that has entered the digestive system can be further crushed.

Emus in nature have practically no enemies, so they live in small families - from two to five birds. In such a family, one male and several females. Male emus are wonderful dads. They take on all the burden of caring for the offspring, starting from the moment when the female lays several eggs in the hole dug by them.

The fact is that, like African ostriches, these ostriches take care of all the ladies of their flock at once, so the time to lay eggs comes almost at the same time. And to lay them off, the females go to the nest that the boyfriend showed. This is how it turns out that in one place there are up to 25 eggs from different females. The emu egg is large, dark green, and covered with a thick shell.

bird ostrich

A male emu performs a parenting feat

Only the male does the incubation of the eggs. He sets up on the nest, and the female, on the contrary, leaves it as soon as all the eggs are laid. Hatching lasts up to 56 days. And no one replaces the male. Sometimes he allows himself to get up to stretch his legs, and walks around the nest or goes to drink water and eats a leaf or a blade of grass along the way. This diet of a happy father is still limited.

Emus lose up to 15% of their weight during hatching,but this does not prevent them from being attentive and caring dads, when after 2 months spotted and fluffy babies are born.

Striches are not in danger of extinction

The beauty of the feathers and the strength of the skin of these birds almost led to the fact that even the famous speed of the ostrich in case of danger could no longer save them – they were ruthlessly exterminated. So, in 1966, the Middle Eastern species of these birds was identified as extinct.

But, due to the fact that from the end of the 19th century. their breeding on farms began, the total number of ostriches is no longer in danger. They are bred in almost fifty countries of the world, regardless of the climate.

This bird is unpretentious in content, withstands large temperature changes, and its meat, according to experts, tastes like lean beef, not to mention strong and beautiful skin, which is used to make various products, and eggs (one ostrich egg is equal to a dish of twenty chicken eggs).

The feathers of birds are not pulled out, but cut off close to the surface of the skin twice a year. For this procedure, by the way, only well-deserved ones are suitable - two-, three-year-old males and older. Feathers have no commercial value in younger individuals.

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