Guest Author - Jeanne Egbosiuba Ukwendu
Scientific Name: Struthio camelus
African Names: Mhowani (Shona), Mbuni (Swahili), Ín-shi (Swati, Swazi), Nyaga (Taita), Tshe (Zulu)
Height: 6 to 9 feet tall
Average Adult Weight: 140 to 290 pounds
Life Span: 40 to 45 years
Description: The feathers of adult males are mostly black with a white tail. Females and young males are greyish-brown and white. The head and neck nearly bare with a thin layer of down.
The legs of the ostrich are bare skin and each foot has two toes.
Habitat: Ostrich prefer open land, semi-desert and true desert.
Countries found in: Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Babies: Eggs are laid in a communal nest that is about 1 to 2 feet deep and 10 feet wide. The dominant female lays her eggs first with the other females adding their eggs later. Extra eggs from the weaker females are discarded first by the dominant female leaving around 20 eggs in the nest to be incubated. The dominant female and male will take turns incubating the eggs. Incubation is 35 to 45 days. The survival rate is very low for ostrich chicks at the rate of one per nest or 5% surviving until adulthood.
Food: Ostriches eat mostly plants, roots and seeds, but are known to also eat insects and lizards.
Group Name: Herd of ostrich. They live in small herd that normally contain less than 12 birds.
Habits: If threatened an ostrich will flatten itself on the ground or run away. Corner an ostrich and it will kick you with its strong legs.
Males will fight for harems of two to seven females by slamming their heads into each other. These fights only last a few minutes, but can result in death.
Conservation Status: Least Concern for extinction
Predators: Hyenas, jackals, various birds of prey, and vultures.
Interesting Facts: An ostrich can run at speeds of up to 45 mph. They use their wings as rudders to help them change direction while running.
The ostrich is the largest living bird and lays the largest eggs.
Ostrich feathers are considered decorative and are used in feather dusters.
Ostrich skin is used in leather products.
Ostrich meat is sold as food.