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Ostrich

Struthio camelus

Family:

Struthionidae, the ostrich family.

Conservation Status:

Least Concern IUCN.

Distribution:

Africa and the Arabian Peninsula of Asia.

Habitat:

Desert, grassland and savanah.

Factoid:

Ostrich eggs weigh about 3 pounds.

A 7-8 ft. tall, flightless bird with a long neck, ostriches have small heads, soft plumage and long legs ending in large, two toed feet. Their beaks are large and flat, their eyes have long eyelashes and their heads and necks are covered with fine bristles. Males’ feathers are black on the body and white on the wings and tail. Females’ feathers are a lighter, sandy color which helps camouflage them during daytime incubation. Adults can weigh up to 320 lbs.
Although mainly vegetarian, ostriches eat just about anything. Because they get water from their food, they rarely drink water but will drink if it is available.

Lions, jackals and hyenas are their main predators, and Egyptian vultures have been known to prey on eggs by dropping rocks on them. When attacked, ostriches kick, packing 500 lbs. of force per sq. inch and they can run up to 40 mph in short bursts.

Ostriches herd with other animals such as zebras and antelopes. During the breeding season, males scrape huge depressions in the sand where 3-4 females lay up to 40-50 eggs, of which only 20 may hatch. For 6 weeks, males incubate the eggs at night relieved by dominant females during the day. Chicks can keep up with their parents at one month and reach maturity at four years.

 

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