Come and enjoy with me some of the most fascinating ostrich facts for kids including ostrich habitat, diet, reproduction, and species. The ostrich (Struthio camelus) is a large flightless bird that is native to Africa. It is the only extant member of genus Struthio that belongs to the family of ratite. According to certain analysts Somali Ostrich should rather be regarded as a full species apart from the Common Ostrich; however taxonomists listed them as a subspecies. Ostriches have shared characteristics with emus, cassowaries, kiwis and rheas. Of all the birds, ostrich bears the fastest land speed with averaging 70 km/h (43 mph). These birds display an unmistakable appearance which can be observed through their long neck and legs. The ostrich is best known for its mammoth sized egg which can be greater than any extant bird species. These long-legged birds primarily feed on plants and invertebrates. They are commonly found in nomadic groups comprising 5 – 50 individuals. They will lie themselves flat on the ground or runs off when the threat is nearby. They have powerful legs which they usually employ against whomsoever chasing them. Ostrich also bears significant commercial importance in that they are regularly farmed for their feathers. These feathers are indeed used for decorations. In some countries, people fancy their meat as a regular meat.
- The weight of these flightless birds is around 63 – 145 kg (140 – 320 lb), with male species living in East African averaging 115 kg (350 lb) whereas females weigh around 100 kg (220 lb). The average weigh of ostrich is up to 111 kg (240 lb). These birds can be as heavy as 156.8 kg (346 lb). When they attain maturity age, the shoulder height becomes 2.1 to 2.8 meters (6 feet 11 inches to 9 feet 2 inches).
- Ostriches stand around 1.7 – 2 meters (5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 7 in). The newly-born ostrich chicks display bright brown marking. In the first year, the chicks measure around 25 cm (10 inches) in length each month. After one year, these juveniles weigh around 45 kg (100 lb).
- The average lifespan of these birds is around 30 – 40 years.
- The ostrich exhibits complete black feathers together with the white primaries and tail.
- Thanks to the long legs of ostrich that aids it to run at much faster speed. They are capable to reach a speed of 70 km/h (43 mph).
- They have a naked head and neck with rare layers of down. The male’s skin mostly displays bluish-gray while females show pinkish gray neck and thighs.
- They have the largest eyes among land vertebrate that measures at 50 mm (2.0 inches). The eyes can be as large as a snooker ball. The ostrich head is around 2.8 meters (9 feet) high above the ground that supports them to visualize their predators from far apart.
- The ostrich bill measures around 12 – 14.3 cm (4.7 – 5.6 inches).
- The skin color varies considerably from species to species. The tarsus measures around 39 – 53 cm (15 – 21 inches). While running, ostriches are adept to cover 3 – 5 meters (9.8 – 16 feet) in a single stride.
- They have a wingspan measuring at 2 meters (6.6 feet), along with the wing chord averaging 90 cm (35 inches). These wings are typically employed for mating displays and to canopy chicks.
- Ostriches are capable to bear varied temperatures of 40o C (100o F). There are around 50 – 60 feathers on the ostrich’s tail.
- Ostriches have unsurprisingly three stomachs and the caecum that measures at 71 cm (28 inches) in length. The males have copulatory organ that measures around 8 inches (20 cm) in length.
- One of the largest ostriches is North African Ostrich measuring at 2.74 meters (9.0 feet) in length, is listed as critically endangered species as it begins to disappear from the major locations. These species weigh around 154 kg (340 lb).
- Ostriches typically spend their winter days alone. Not more than 16 percent of birds are sighted as two birds. Ostriches for the most part, inhabit in the nomadic groups comprising 5 – 50 birds and these species travel mutually with other grazing animals including antelopes and zebras. In general, ostriches are diurnal but will also active during the moonlit nights. The territory of male ostrich ranges from 2 – 20 sq. km (0.77 – 7.7 sq. miles).
- Ostriches have keen eyesight and hearing sense and they can observe potential predators such as lions from far apart. They will run at a speed of around 70 km/h (43 mph) and are proficient enough to maintain a speed of 50 km/h (31 mph); this makes these birds as the fastest extant species on land.
- They can pose a serious danger to the chasing predators by kicking them off by their powerful legs. However, the ostrich legs can only kick forward. Contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not burry their heads in sand when threatened.
- The ostriches may fall victim to several predators such as leopards, African hunting dogs, cheetahs, lions, and spotted hyenas. These birds are often found to outpace their predators. Although most of its body is covered with feathers, ostriches can’t fly as their weight is too heavy to lift off the ground.
- Ostriches have long been admired for their unique size and swift speed. For over thousands of years, people have been fascinated from these flightless birds. According to the ancient paintings, ostriches were well kept as an important food source across native Africans. People have also employed the ostrich eggshells as drinking cups or storage containers in the ancient China, Egypt, and Greece.
- Each ostrich feather circles around a central shaft. The lower part is naked and is called quill. Many birds have barbs that are combined together with tiny hooks known as barbules. The feathers keep these birds warm. The ostrich is often involved in preening process that is pulling feathers through their beaks. Thanks to the preening that spread out body oil all over its feathers.
- S. c. australis (Southern Ostrich)
- S. c. camelus (North African Ostrich
- S. c. massaicus (Masai Ostrich)
- S. c. syriacus (Arabian Ostrich)
- S. c. molybdophanes (Somali Ostrich)
Previously, ostriches lived all throughout the range of Africa and South of Sahara. These large birds are often found in open places such as savannas and grasslands. They will also occupy forest zone in the Sahel of Africa. The ostriches are known to reside in the true deserts and semi-deserts. These flightless birds are not found at a height of 100 meters (330 feet). By the middle of the 20th century, the ostriches were hunted to extinction in the Middle East.
What Do Ostriches Eat
The ostrich primarily feeds on plants matter, fruits, grass, shrubs, flowers, and seeds. Although rarely, they will also feed on insects including locusts. The ostriches do not have teeth and they swallow pebbles to pulverize food in the gizzard. The gizzard has the capacity to withhold 1,300 grams (46 oz) amongst which 40 – 50% consist of pebbles. Ostriches can go by numerous days without drinking water.
Ostriches attain the maturity age after 2 – 4 years, with females being mature six months earlier in comparison to the males. The mating season ranges from March to April and it can sometimes end on September. The incubation period lasts for 35 – 45 days. The males are responsible for guarding over the eggs. More than 90% of nests might end up in predation and only 10% survives in the end. The longest ostrich ever lived was at 62 years and 7 months.