African ostrich: what it looks like, where it lives, what it eats
The largest bird in the world is an ostrich; this species is the only representative of the same genus. These giant birds live in the wild, but lend themselves to domestication. After reading this article, you will find out what they are remarkable for and what their life looks like in their natural habitats.
The appearance of the ostrich is very unusual. Except for very similar cassowary birds, such as the Australian emu, scientists have not revealed other creatures with similar characteristics. First of all, the ostrich stands out for its extraordinary growth. The height of the feathered body is 1.8–2.7 meters. The weight of the bird reaches 50–75 kg. A long neck allows birds to feed on vegetation on tree tops and hills. At the same time, their head is small compared to the rest of the body.
The eyes are large enough, protected by a thick layer of eyelashes. The beak is flat. The brain of a bird does not exceed the size of a walnut. Ostriches' eyesight and hearing are very well developed, and high growth allows you to see danger from afar and warn fellow animals. They are able to see at a distance of about one kilometer.
Ostrich is a bird that does not fly. Weak development of the chest and wings, as well as a large body weight will not allow him to fly. Nevertheless, they run great. High and strong legs of the bird give it the opportunity to reach speeds of up to 70 km / h in times of danger. Two toes are located on the legs. One of them is large, ends with a sharp claw, the second is slightly smaller. The keratinized skin on the fingers helps the bird to walk. The lower part of the legs is covered with scales.The plumage covers the body, and the neck, legs and head are covered with fine down. The wingspan reaches two meters, but there is no keel on the sternum, allowing the birds to take off. Eggs in ostriches are very large, their weight reaches one and a half to two kilograms. The shell is white, the shape of an egg resembles a ball. The shell is so strong that it can withstand the weight of the average person. Unlike other birds, ostriches have a bladder in their body structure. The urethra is discharged from a separate opening.
Did you know? The name of this bird species is translated as “camel sparrow».
Habitat and lifestyle
Ostriches live in Africa, in savannas and semi-deserts in its territory. Previously, these birds also lived in Syria and on the Arabian Peninsula. Plains, swamps, and deserts full of quicksand are places that birds avoid. Such a surface does not allow clawed paws to cling to the surface, and the speed of walking and running is significantly reduced.Ostriches are herd animals. There can be up to fifty birds in a flock, all of them lead a sedentary lifestyle. Among them there is a hierarchy. The male selects several females, highlighting one of them as the most important. During a hot day and at night the flock rests. But twilight is the most productive period of life in these birds.
Did you know? There is a myth that an ostrich hides its head in the sand at the sight of danger. However, this theory, based on the records of the ancient Roman philosopher and traveler Pliny the Elder, is a science not confirmed.
Ostrich is an omnivorous bird. However, they prefer to choose plant foods, some mammals, and pebbles that help their digestive system handle the digestion of foods.
They eat such plant foods:
Ostriches also eat:
The main danger for the flock comes from predators: hyenas, cheetahs, jackals and lions. Ostrich eggs can also feed on vultures. And although one blow of a large ostrich claw can injure a lion, young animals have very low survival rates. This is the main reason for the low population of these birds. Also, ostriches for a long time exterminated by poachers for the sake of unusual feathers for fans and fans.
Important! Since this bird lives in arid areas, it may not drink for a long time. But having the opportunity, he enjoys drinking water with pleasure and even swims in it.
Ostriches breed in the summer-autumn period, approximately from June to October. At this time, the male begins to aggressively perceive other males from the herd, so it breaks up. The male can throw himself at the opponent and try to kick, but he treats the females well.
Mating games for couples take place in this way: the male spreads its wings widely and makes a sound similar to a roar. After that, he falls on his paws, flaps his wings and alternately bows his head to his shoulders.
The male selects several females for his new flock. He chooses one of them as the main one, helping her to incubate the chicks. The male digs a hole for the nest up to 60 centimeters deep, equips it with branches, leaves and other materials, and waits until the main female lays the first eggs.
Then he sits in the recess, warming the in-shell chicks, while the rest of the females lay their eggs in his nest. Interestingly, the eggs of the main female are always in the center of the nest. There can be up to 25 ostrich eggs in one recess.The hatching period lasts about one and a half months. The male hatches eggs at night, and during the day the female warms the clutch. These birds practically do not sleep, for a maximum of 15 minutes several times a day, so they can hatch chicks one part of the day without problems, and look for food and water in another.
Six weeks later, ostriches appear. The hatching process is very difficult, because small chicks need to break a very thick shell of 0.5 cm. When all the chicks have hatched, the parents crush the shell on which the flies flock - these insects become the first food of the chicks.
Important! The life expectancy of ostriches is from 30 to 50 years, depending on living conditions.
Immediately after birth, their small feathers-bristles are yellow-gray in color and change their color by two years. The weight of the chicks reaches 1.2 kg. Kids can immediately move independently, using their vision to orient themselves in space. At first, the chicks feed only on insects and small reptiles. Their parents protect them from predators, spreading their huge wings on the ground. Chicks live with their parents until the age of two years, after which they begin puberty and create their own pairs.
Home breeding goals
Previously, in African farms, ostriches were tried to breed as a traction force. An adult male is able to lift a person and carry his required distance on horseback. However, these birds require high material costs and are difficult to train, so now they are bred for meat, eggs, skin and plumage.
Ostrich meat tastes like beef, as it is stiffer than other birds. It is used in some dishes of exotic cuisine.
Eggs are used in both cooking and art. They are painted with various materials, souvenirs are made from them.
Ostrich skin is considered an elite material due to its unusual fine texture. Various accessories are made from it. Also, these birds are bred in zoos, thus protecting the livestock of ostriches from extinction in the wild.
Along with lions, elephants and giraffes, huge birds have become symbols of wildlife in Africa. And although now they can be found in our area, not only in zoos, but also on farms, their exotic look is still amazing.