10 interesting facts about ostriches - the largest birds in the world

They have a small head with a straight beak and large eyes decorated with eyelashes. These are birds, but their wings are poorly developed; they cannot fly. But this is compensated by strong legs. Egg shells were used by ancient Africans to carry water.

People were also partial to their luxurious feathers. They cover almost the entire body of this bird. Males usually have black feathers, with the exception of the wings and tail, which are white. Females are a slightly different shade, gray-brown, their tail and wings are grayish-white.

Once upon a time, fans were made from the feathers of this bird, and ladies' hats were decorated with them. Because of this, 200 years ago ostriches were on the verge of extinction until they began to be kept on farms.

Their eggs, and the eggs of other birds, are eaten, and various products are made from the shells. It is also eaten as meat, it resembles beef, and the fat is added to cosmetics. Down and feathers are still used as decorations.

Fortunately, these friendly exotic birds are not uncommon now; 10 interesting facts about ostriches will help you get to know them better.

The largest bird in the world

The African ostrich is called the largest bird because... it grows up to 2m 70 cm and weighs 156 kg . They live in Africa. Once upon a time they could be found in Asia. But, despite such enormous size, this bird has a small head and a tiny brain, no larger in diameter than a walnut.

Legs are their main wealth. They are adapted for running because... have powerful muscles, with 2 fingers, one of which resembles a foot. They prefer open areas, avoid thickets, swamps and deserts with quicksand, because... they wouldn't be able to run fast there.

How do ostriches develop?

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

True, if the paths of two families with ostrich chicks cross in the savannah, then each of them will try to grab the babies for themselves and add them to their brood. Because of this, there are families with up to 300 cubs of different ages.

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

The name translates as “camel sparrow”

The word “ostrich” comes to us from the German language, Strauss comes from the Greek “strouthos” or “strufos”. It was translated as “bird” or “sparrow”. The phrase “strufos megas” meant “big bird” and referred to ostriches.

Another Greek name for it is “strufokamelos”, which can be translated as “camel bird” or “camel sparrow”. At first, this Greek word became the Latin “strucio”, then it entered the German language as “strauss”, and later came to us as the familiar “ostrich”.

flock birds

They live in small families. They usually have one adult male and four to five females of different ages . But sometimes, in rare cases, there are up to fifty birds in one flock. It is not permanent, but everyone in it is subject to a strict hierarchy. If this is a high-ranking ostrich, then its neck and tail are always positioned vertically; weakened individuals prefer to keep their heads tilted.

Ostriches can be seen alongside groups of antelopes and zebras, and prefer to stay close to them when crossing the African plains. Zebras and other animals do not mind such a neighborhood. Ostriches warn them of danger in advance.

While feeding, they often examine their surroundings. They have excellent vision; they can see a moving object at a distance of 1 km. As soon as the ostrich notices a predator, it begins to run away, followed by other animals that are not particularly vigilant.

A little about the power of the ostrich

The ostrich prefers not to face danger, but it cannot be considered cowardly, because if the bird does have 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 seriously 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 avoids danger, and even then only during the non-nesting period. And during nesting or if it is impossible to avoid a collision, he greets everything like a real warrior. The ostrich fluffs up 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.

Territory of residence – Africa

Ostriches have long been domesticated; they are bred on farms, i.e. These birds can be found all over the world. But wild ostriches live only in Africa.

Once upon a time they were found in Central Asia, the Middle East, Iran, India, i.e. occupied larger territories. But due to the fact that they were constantly hunted, they were simply exterminated in other places, even the numerous Middle Eastern species.

Ostriches can be found almost throughout the continent, except for the Sahara Desert and the north of the mainland. They feel especially good in nature reserves where hunting birds is prohibited.

Where do ostriches live? African savanna - home for the ostrich

From a scientific point of view, today there is only one type of ostrich - the African one. They call it that because, unlike the closely related species rhea and emu, they live in the nature of the African continent. Find out more about where the ostrich lives now.

Ostrich habitat

The habitat of the largest birds on Earth covers the lowlands of Africa and the Middle East. Previously, they were also found in Mesopotamia, Persia, India, Central Asia and Arabia, however, due to hunting in these areas, their population practically disappeared. In particular, the Middle Eastern species has completely disappeared.

Of course, due to the fact that ostriches are now being actively domesticated and bred on special poultry farms, their numbers have increased sharply in many areas of the world. Therefore, they can be found on almost all continents, except Antarctica. However, the habitat of the wild species is exclusively Africa.

Currently, there are several types of African ostrich:

  • with red necks and legs - live in the east of the continent;
  • with bluish necks and legs - live in northern Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia;
  • with gray necks and legs - inhabits southwest Africa.

As you can see, these record holders in running live in almost all areas except the northern part and the Sahara Desert.


Ostriches, due to their nature and the need to run quickly, choose mainly grassy savannas, as well as small woodlands, to live. The plain is an excellent place for them to breed and feed. In addition, predators are clearly visible on smooth, flat surfaces in the savannah. That is why these birds try to avoid dense thickets, swampy places, as well as deserts with shifting sands.

On grassy plains, these birds live in small flocks, sometimes their number can reach up to 50 individuals. But most often the number of birds does not exceed 15-20 individuals. Ostriches graze along with numerous herds of zebras and wildebeest. Large birds like this company of herbivores.


The desert is not the best place for an ostrich to live; they do not live in the Sahara. This is due, first of all, to the fact that it is very inconvenient for a bird to run on sand. And developing high speed is an extremely necessary condition for ostrich runners. However, very often, especially during hatching of eggs, they can be seen in semi-desert areas with hard soil and sparse thickets.

Two types: African and Brazilian

For a long time, not only African birds that live on this continent, but also rheas were considered ostriches. This so-called Brazilian ostrich is similar to the African one, now classified as a rhea . Despite the similarities between the birds, there are also significant differences between them.

Firstly, they are much smaller: even the largest rhea grows to a maximum of 1.4 m. The ostrich has a bare neck, while the rhea is covered with feathers, the first has 2 toes, the second has 3. The cry of the rhea is not similar resembles a bird's, resembles the roar of a predator, makes sounds reminiscent of “nan-doo”, which is why it got its name. They can be found not only in Brazil, but also in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Paraguay.

Rheas also prefer to live in herds, where there are from 5 to 30 individuals. It includes males, chicks, and females. They can form mixed herds with deer, vicuñas, guanacos, and in rare cases with cows and sheep.

Emu can run too

The emu has an atypical feather cover, which helps the bird to be active even in the midday heat. Its feathers have a hair-like structure and resemble wool in appearance. Therefore, if the emu’s body, decorated with long feathers, looks like a living mop, then on the neck and head of the bird they are curly and short.

Like the African ostrich, it has fairly long, strong legs. Only in emus they are armed not with two, but with three three-phalanx 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 perfectly on the water and, despite her weight, can swim quite long distances.

Juveniles eat only meat and insects

Ostriches are omnivores. They feed on grass, fruits, and leaves. They prefer to collect food from the ground rather than tear it from tree branches. They also love insects, any small living creatures, including turtles, lizards, i.e. something they can swallow and grab.

They never crush their prey, but swallow it. To survive, birds are forced to move from place to place in search of food. But they can live for several days without food or water.

If there are no bodies of water nearby, the liquid they get from plants is enough for them. However, they prefer to make their camps near bodies of water, where they willingly drink water and swim.

To digest food, they need pebbles, which ostriches happily swallow. Up to 1 kg of pebbles can accumulate in the stomach of one bird.

And young ostriches prefer to eat only insects or small animals, refusing plant foods.

Video: Unusual mating dance

Chicks are “punchy” from birth.
The number of eggs in a nest can be from 15 to 60, depending on the habitat. The weight of the egg reaches two kilograms, and the size is 18-21 cm. The shell thickness is about two mm. The color depends on the subspecies of birds - cream, blue and green.

To get out, the chicks have to make holes in the thick shell for an hour. And then break it with the back of your head, resting your legs on the opposite side. As a result of such exorbitant labor, babies are born with bruises on their heads.

Despite this, the chicks are quite viable. They are sighted, hairy, weigh over one kilogram and are capable of independent movement. They quickly gain weight and, together with their parents, participate in the search for food.

"Punch" chicks

After four months they already weigh up to 19 kg. And at the age of 2-4 years they create their own families. Their life expectancy is on average about 50 years.

While hatching eggs, ostriches forget about their timidity and boldly defend the nest. They do not run away from danger, but on the contrary, they aggressively approach the meeting, trying at first to simply scare them.

If it was not possible to intimidate the enemy, then he rushes at him, delivering powerful kicks. They can kill a lion with their paw, breaking its head.

During this period, African animals do not dare to engage in open combat with this bird. You can only win by suddenly attacking from behind.

It's not scary with a mom like that

The African ostrich has only 2 toes on its feet. Moreover, the first one is very large with a sharp, hard claw. It serves as a support when running and a dangerous weapon in a fight with a predator. The second finger is much smaller and helps maintain balance.

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Have no close relatives among other creatures

The order of ratites are the ostriches. It includes only one representative - the African ostrich. We can say that ostriches have no close relatives .

Ratite birds also include cassowary-like birds, for example, emus, kiwi-like birds - kiwi, rhea-like birds - rhea, tinamous-like birds - tinamu, and several extinct orders. We can say that these birds are distant relatives of ostriches.

How do emus reproduce?

Emus eat mostly plant 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 the food that enters the digestive system can be further crushed.

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

The fact is that, like African ostriches, these ones look after all the ladies of their flock at once, so the time to lay eggs comes almost simultaneously. And to lay them, the females go to the nest that the suitor demonstrated. 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, covered with a thick shell.

They don't bury their heads in the sand

The thinker Pliny the Elder was sure that when they see a predator, ostriches hide their heads in the sand. He believed that then these birds seem to be completely hidden. But that's not true.

Ostriches bow their heads to the ground when they swallow sand or gravel; sometimes they select these hard pebbles from the ground, which they need for digestion..

A bird that has been chased for a long time may lay its head on the sand, because... she doesn't have the strength to lift it. When a female ostrich sits on a nest to wait out danger, she may spread herself flat, bowing her neck and head to make herself invisible. If a predator approaches her, she will jump up and run away.

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Why are ostriches valuable?

Nowadays, the fashion for fans and headdresses with feathers has passed. Feathers are mainly used to decorate costumes during carnivals. The length of a quality feather reaches 70 cm in length and 30 cm in width.

Length up to 70 cm

Nowadays, expensive ostrich leather and meat that tastes like beef are in great demand.

Leather with a unique pattern is more expensive and stronger than crocodile and snake skin. Very beautiful, elastic and soft. Over time, it does not change its structure. Remains the same soft for decades.

Products made from it - shoes, bags, jackets, hats and accessories - are an indicator of the success and wealth of their owner.

Ostrich leather is very expensive

Real masterpieces are made from the strong shells of eggs - vases, lamps, decorations.

Eggs are used in cooking and cosmetology.

Some facts about ostriches

  • Everyone knows the saying: “...don’t bury your head in the sand like an ostrich.” This is not entirely true. These giant birds sometimes lower their heads very low to the ground, but not out of fear, but for the sake of a larger pebble.
  • At night they take turns sleeping, guarding their sleeping relatives.
  • In the entire bird world, only the ostrich has a bladder. His urine and feces are excreted separately.
  • In case of “betrayal” of a male, the female looks for another, ready to help hatch the eggs left by the runaway dad.
  • Ostriches do not hide from the rain, even if there is such an opportunity.
  • The sounds of a dull growl during mating are obtained as a result of swelling of the neck.
  • The eggs of the dominant female are always located in the middle of the clutch. This gives a greater chance of having offspring.

This is the bird that chose our Earth for its home.

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