By Kane Daniel
Closely related to the kiwi and the emu, the ostrich is a flightless bird that lives in the savannah and desert regions of Africa. An omnivore, the ostrich's diet consists mainly of seeds, leaves, roots, and insects, along with the occasional small mammal or reptile. The ostrich's height ranges from 6 to 9 feet tall, and they can weigh as little as 140 pounds, or as much as 290 pounds. Since their wings are too small and weak to carry them in flight, the ostrich developed powerful legs which enable it to run to speeds as fast as 42 mph! With such a large body, the ostrich has few predators. The few predators that prey on the ostrich include lions, cheetahs, and hyenas. But these predators have to watch out for the ostrich's legs, which can deliver a kick that has the power to kill many animals, such as a lion. Ostriches live in herds which usually consists of the dominant male, his hens (female ostriches), and their offspring. The alpha male maintains the herd, and mates with the dominant hen, as well as with some of the other hens. During the mating season, a public nest is made for the females to lay their eggs. There is often more than 20 eggs all lain in these nests, many of which never hatch due to predators like hyenas and jackals. It is the job of the alpha male ostrich to protect these eggs and the few chicks that hatch from them.
- Ostriches have a life span of about 30-40 years.
- The ostrich has the largest eye of any land animal, which measures 2 inches across.
- The ostrich has the largest egg size of any bird, which are generally 10x the size of a chicken egg.
- The ostrich has a defensive behavior where it lies low to the ground and presses its neck to the ground in the attempt of becoming less visible. Their plumage blends in well with the earth around it, and from a distance it appears that the ostrich has buried its head in the ground.
- The ostrich's endangered status is listed as one with very little concern, which basically means that isn't endangered.