The largest bird in the world is an African ostrich. And I must say that these birds grow really impressive sizes. An adult ostrich can be up to 2.7 m tall, and it will weigh approximately 156 kg. But not only the large size of the ostrich attracts attention to him, but also his manner of caring for a lady, hatching, and then raising offspring, and a host of other interesting features.
More about ostriches and their habits, we will tell in this article.
Where and how African ostriches settle
The African ostrich lives on a hot continent in the area of savanna and semi-desert, on both sides of the equator. All his life, the male remains loyal to one dominant female. But since he, despite this, is polygamous, his family includes, as a rule, several other representatives of the weaker sex, among whom he singles out his "lady of the heart." This is how an ostrich family marches across the savanna: a male, a dominant female, several females by rank and an Ostrich.
You can often see how these beautiful birds graze with zebras or antelopes, making long journeys with them across the plains. Artiodactyls do not drive them away, because those, due to their excellent eyesight and high growth, can see a moving predator at a great distance - up to 5 km.
In case of danger, having emitted a warning sound, this huge bird takes off running (and the speed of an ostrich in case of danger reaches 70 km / h). The herd, warned by the bird, is also scattered. So having such a sentinel herbivore is very beneficial!
A little about the strength of the ostrich
The ostrich prefers not to meet with danger, but it is impossible to consider it cowardly, because if the bird still has to face a lion or another attacker, in battle it will show itself as a brave warrior. Sturdy ostrich legs are a great weapon. A single blow of such a limb is enough to severely 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 just wary away from danger, and even then only in the extra-nesting period. And during nesting or if it is impossible to avoid a collision, it meets everything like a real warrior. The ostrich fluffs feathers and begins to move toward the enemy, and if he is not lucky enough to escape, he will be trampled! Probably, therefore, all predators try to avoid encounters with this bird, because they keep from the ostrich at a respectful distance.
Ostrich - flightless bird
An ostrich cannot fly - this is a well-known fact. So ordered nature. His muscles are poorly developed in the thoracic region, the wings are underdeveloped, and the feathers of the ostrich, curly and loose, do not form tightly closed rigid plates-plows. Its skeleton is not pneumatic.
But this bird runs faster than a horse! Her long two-fingered legs are perfectly suited for walking over long distances and for running. Already at the age of one month, the speed of the Ostrich can reach 50 km / h A running ostrich takes steps, each up to 4 m long and, if necessary, can make a sharp turn, not reducing speed, and even spread on the ground.
By the way, the number of fingers of an African ostrich helps him a lot in the process of walking. The fingers of the bird are flattened, provided with pads on the sole. In addition, there are only two of them, and they very much resemble the camel's soft-hoofed appearance. No wonder the word "ostrich" is translated from the Greek as "sparrow-camel." The larger of the bird’s fingers is supplied with something similar to both the claw and the hoof — the bird leans on it during the run.
Description of birds and characteristics
The name of the ostrich in biology is translated from the Greek language literally, as “sparrow-camel”.
This name was due to the external features of the ostrich: similar to the camel's eyes and two-fingered limbs, as well as the presence of pest.
And it was compared with the sparrow, apparently, because of its small and underdeveloped wings.
This is a unique bird, unable to fly and not having a keel. In addition, the African ostrich has only two toes, which also makes it unique for the class of birds.
The growth of a large specimen of the African ostrich reaches 2.7 meters in height and weighs 156 kilograms. At the same time, ordinary individuals weigh around 50 kilograms. Females are a little smaller than males in size. The ostrich has no pneumatic skeleton, not counting the femur. The endings of the pubic bones of this animal are spliced and form a closed pelvis. This is also uncharacteristic for the rest of the birds.
Description of the African Ostrich:
- Build strong.
- The neck is long and elongated.
- The head is a small, flattened form.
- The bill is wide and even with a soft horn tissue.
- The eyes are large with long eyelashes growing on the upper eyelid.
- Completely absent keel, characteristic of other birds.
- The sternum is poorly developed, there is a corn callus on it.
- The wings are underdeveloped, each has two fingers with sharp claws.
- The legs are long and very strong, with developed muscles.
- On each leg there are two fingers, only one of which has a hoof, which is a support during the run.
- Plumage is quite uniform, loose.
- Feathers on the head, neck and legs are missing, but there is a short down.
Feathers have a primitive structure - feather beards are almost not linked with each other, do not form a vane. Beautiful feathers and in large quantities:
- 16 first-order flight feathers,
- 20–23 winged feathers of the second order,
- 50–60 tail feathers.
Males and females are easily distinguishable. Adult males have black plumage, and tail and wings are white. Females less bright - Feathers are greyish-white, tail and wings are off-white.
African ostrich food
it omnivorous bird, but youngsters prefer to eat animal food, and adults with vegetation.
Basically, the diet includes: grass, various plants, flowers, fruits.
But they are not limited to vegetarian food, but also insects, lizards, rodents and various carrion.
These birds cannot chew food and therefore they eat sand and small stones to help the digestive process. It happens that they absorb and absolutely not edible objects: plastic, metal, slivers. Ostriches can not eat for several days, and also, like camels, do without water for a long time. They have enough liquid derived from green plants. But, if water appears near the ostrich, then he drinks a lot. Also, ostriches love to swim.
Where do ostriches live
Where do ostriches live? their homeland is Africa. African ostrich prefers to settle on open grassy plains or in semi-desert, which are mainly located to the north and south of the equator forest. Ostriches live in families that consist of one adult male, four or five females and offspring. Family size can reach 20–30 birds.
And if we talk about juveniles in the south, they sometimes live in groups of hundreds of birds.
Ostriches often side by side with pastures of zebras or antelopes. These types of animals normally relate to each other and together wander through the territories. Since ostriches are tall and have very good eyesight, they can see predators from afar threatening the herd. When a bird sees a threat, it begins to quickly run away, the speed of an ostrich often reaches 60–70 kilometers per hour.
Other animals, having seen such a reaction, also often manage to escape from predators, but their speed is usually incomparable with these birds. And also the ostrich can dramatically change the direction of its run, without reducing speed. Chicks run at a speed of 50 kilometers per hour almost at the same speed as adult birds.
Breeding and cubs
Ostriches enter mature age 2-4 years. Every male at the time of toking protects his territory extremely vigilantly. This territory can occupy from 2 to 15 square kilometers. All possible competitors will be ruthlessly chased away from it. The color of the neck and limbs becomes bright red in males. To attract females, the male drops to its knees and begins to beat its wings intensively, arching its neck back and shaking its head against its back.
Also males make hissing and trumpet sounds, gathering air into the goiter and pushing it into the esophagus.
This is a polygamous bird. The main male can mate with all the females from their harem, but only one dominant female will be his mate and will breed. When mating has occurred, the male digs a nest in the sand, 30–60 centimeters deep. There all the females will lay eggs, which happens every couple of days.
The ostrich has the largest eggs of all birds, however, they are rather small for the size of the bird's body. Usually ostrich egg 15–21 centimeter in length and about 13 centimeters in width. Egg weighs 1.5–2 kg - This is about 30 chicken eggs. In laying, there are usually 15–20 eggs for inhabitants of the north and around 30 in the inhabitants of the south. And in the East African population of ostriches there are 60 eggs in one bed.
After all the eggs are laid, the main female chases the others away from the nest. They lay their eggs in the middle. Further throughout 30–45 days incubation period, male and female hatch eggs in turn. In the afternoon females are engaged in eggs, at night - the male. During the day, the laying also warms the warmth of the sun.
Somewhere an hour before hatching, the chick begins to break open the shell from inside, hammering it with a beak at one point. Having made several such holes, the chick knocks out this place and gets out. Ostrich meat is born already well developed, with a light gun on the body and weighs about 1.2 kilograms. Feathers appear later and small ostrichs are more similar in color to females, and the features of males appear only in the region of two years.
Ostrich bones are tied to each other, they very quickly get used to chicks from other families. And, if two groups of families meet, it will be extremely difficult to separate the chicks. Therefore, often there are flocks consisting of ostrichs of different ages. Parents arrange a fight for the cubs and as a result the winners take away all of them.
Earlier on earth there were several species of ostriches that lived in Asia, India and southern Eastern Europe. These animals are referred to by the ancient Greek historian Xenophon, as inhabiting desert areas in the Middle East, to the west of the Euphrates River.
But then followed the uncontrolled destruction of birds, which led to a strong reduction in their population. As well as the destruction of many species of these birds completely. Currently there is only one species, which includes four subspecies, all of them live in Africa.
- Ordinary. He is called North African. Externally different bald head. In size, the largest of all species. They can reach a height of up to 2.74 meters and weigh up to 156 kilograms. Their limbs and neck are bright red. Now this species of ostriches lives in Cameroon, Senegal, the Central African Republic and Chad.
- Masaysky - lives in East Africa. The neck and limbs are bright red during the breeding season, and the rest of the time is pink.
- Somali - sometimes it is considered as a separate species. They also have bald spots on the head, but the color of the neck and extremities is bluish-gray, while females have bright brown feathers. They live in southern Ethiopia, in Mosali, and in northeastern Kenya. Unlike other subspecies, they live in pairs or singly.
- Southern - gray plumage. Lives in southwestern Africa.
The eggs of these birds are considered a delicacy in jackals, hyenas and vultures. Predators are attacking the chicks: lions, cheetahs, hyenas and leopards. But the ostrich is a very strong bird, able to stand up for itself. Adults prefer to avoid even the most formidable predators.
Ostriches live long and their age can reach 75 years.
But the common myth that ostriches hide their heads in the sand is incorrect. He went from the fact that these animals often bow their heads to find and swallow pebbles. From a distance it may seem that they stuck their heads in the sand.
The African ostrich is a very powerful bird that has a long neck and legs. Growth of an adult individual can exceed 2.5 meters, and weight varies from 70 to 170 kilograms. The head of an ostrich is not proportional to its body. The bird's brain does not exceed the size of a walnut, which affects its mental abilities. Ostrich has very developed eyesight and hearing. The trunk and tail are covered with soft feathers. The head, neck and upper legs do not have feathers. The lower legs are covered with scales.
The legs of the African ostrich are very powerful and perfectly adapted for running. There are only two toes on the ostrich's leg. One of which is the support and contains a claw, thanks to which there is a better grip with the ground. The second finger has a much smaller size and does not have a claw, it helps the bird to keep balance.
As for the behavior, then, despite the small brain, the African ostrich is very careful and attentive. During the meal, the bird constantly inspects the surroundings. Thanks to the excellent vision, the ostrich can see a predator within a radius of one kilometer. If the ostrich senses danger, it instantly leaves the place, running away. The maximum speed that a bird can reach while running is 90 kilometers per hour.
Male African ostrich polygamy. During nesting, the male paws digs a hole so that the females can lay eggs there. The male himself incubates the eggs. At this time, the females continue to lay eggs near the male, which then shifts them into their pit. One female lays on average 6 eggs each. In the pit, there are from 15 to 25 eggs.
Many farmers are happy to breed ostriches in order to get excellent meat, which at one time was a substitute for beef in 2000 in Europe. Every year more and more countries introduce ostrich meat into the range of grocery stores. Ostrich eggs are also popular, one egg weighs about one and a half kilograms.
Unlike the eggs of other birds, the African Ostrich Egg has a low cholesterol index, which allows it to be eaten by all people.
The shell of an ostrich egg is often used in the manufacture of various souvenirs. Farmers are more than selling ostrich leather for making shoes and accessories. The skin of the bird is durable, resistant to water and has a unique texture. Selling only one skin can pay back the whole business of breeding ostriches.
With one ostrich, you can get an average of 10 kilograms of fat, which is used in the manufacture of cosmetic creams, balms, various soaps and therapeutic ointments. Ostrich feathers can also be sold on the market, however, their demand is not so great.
Features breeding and growing at home
In order to start breeding African ostriches, it is necessary to acquire a large room where eggs will be incubated. The incubation period depends on the size of the egg and the thickness of its shell.
Now on the market there are a large number of different cabinets for incubating eggs, but the best incubators are the cabinets with two departments, one of which is necessary for incubation and the other for hatching. In order for the incubation to be successful, you must carefully select the eggs.
During incubation, it is necessary to turn the egg at intervals of 6 days. However, it should be remembered that the eggs should be touched only in disposable gloves, since the shell is not protected by anything and infection of the chick is possible. An important factor in incubation is maintaining the optimum temperature and humidity. The most suitable temperature is 36 degrees, and the humidity is 27%.
Nestlings born to the world have dimensions of not more than 20 centimeters. However, they grow very quickly. Until reaching a one and a half meter growth mark, ostrichs grow by centimeter per day. In the first few days of life, chicks are not recommended to give any food or drink.
After a few days, it is advisable for the African Ostrich Chicks to start giving water and clover leaves. During the first month, it is recommended to feed the chicks mixed feed mixed with clover leaves. In the second and third month of life, the ostrich feed is fed with mixed fodder and cottage cheese, boiled eggs, corn, and wheat are added to the diet.
In the summer, ostriches can be given grass, in the fall - root crops, and in winter - silage.
Conditions of detention and care
The following ostrich keeping systems are distinguished:
- Intense. According to the principle of livestock breeding. The whole lifestyle of the ostriches is provided by the farm staff. In this case, one female is allocated to one adult male. This method of keeping is effective in the initial stages of growing an African ostrich.
- Extensive. Imitates the existence of an ostrich in the wild, that is, all conditions are as close as possible to living an African ostrich in the wild. The benefit of this type of content is that the female can mate with several males, and this will increase the total number of eggs.
- Semi-intensive. Combining the two previous systems.
Для разведения африканских страусов требуется подготовить вольер, содержащий в себе не менее 40 м2 земли на каждую птицу. Зимой большую часть времени птицы пребывают в помещении, поэтому необходимо будет проводить частые уборки. Летом же, наоборот, страусы обитают в открытых загонах.
Страусы обладают отличным иммунитетом. Среди всех возможных болезней чаще всего встречаются расстройства ЖКТ и респираторные заболевания.
In order to support the immune system of the African ostrich, it is necessary to carry out vaccinations, to pay special attention to sanitary standards and to disinfect the premises in time.
Ostrich chicks are very susceptible to the flu. Therefore, in order to protect the chick from a possible disease, it is necessary to protect it from contact with the adult bird until it reaches six months.
One of the frequent causes of death of an ostrich is the ingress of a foreign body into the respiratory tract. Also, the ostrich is the only bird susceptible to anthrax.
Dangerous carriers of many diseases are pigeons, so you must try not to let pigeons enter the pen to the ostriches.
Currently, the breeding of African ostriches is a very interesting activity. However, it should be understood that this will require not only financial investments, but also enormous strength and knowledge.
What does an African ostrich look like?
What an African ostrich looks like is probably not a secret to anyone - it is a dense bird with a long, featherless neck that is crowned with a flattened small head with large eyes and a beak.
The beak is soft, decorated on the upper part of the cornified growth. You can not ignore the big eyes of ostrich, pubescent with long eyelashes. Each of them, by the way, has a volume equal to the brain of this bird.
In males, the plumage is brighter than in females, which are decorated with gray-brown feathers with dirty-white tips on the tail and wings. And their cavaliers can boast black "tails" with bright white feathers on the wings and tail.
Different subspecies of the African ostrich differ mainly in the color of the neck, legs, size and some biological features: the number of eggs in the nest, the presence or absence of litter there, and the structure of the egg shells.
How an ostrich creates a harem
During the mating period, the African ostrich makes itself a harem. He spreads his wings, fluffs feathers and slowly kneels. Then she throws her head back and rubs it on her back - such a “gypsy” does not leave indifferent females who allow themselves to be covered and become members of one family.
True, in this harem there will be one “First Lady” - the dominant female, which the ostrich chooses once and for all its life. And the rest of the harem females can change from time to time. The “First Lady”, of course, does not forget to periodically demonstrate who is the boss here, giving beating to his fellows.
In the family of ostriches you can easily determine the rank of each. The father of the family itself is ahead, his “lady of the heart” follows him with his head held high, and the rest of the samochki and the young follow him, bending their heads.
The speed of an ostrich is not its only feature.
Ostrich birds lay in one nest, which the male will dig in the ground or sand. As a result, up to 30 of them are recruited there, and among ostriches living in East Africa, up to 60. True, the dominant female ensures that her eggs are located in the center of the clutch, and the rest around. So the law of survival at the expense of numbers works.
The ostrich's egg is the largest in the world (it is 24 times the size of the chicken), but if you compare it with the size of the hen itself, then it is the smallest! Here is such an incident!
The dominant ostrich is sitting on a clutch in the afternoon. It serves as an original conditioner for eggs, preventing them from boiling under 50-degree heat. At night, a male climbs up on them to save them from hypothermia.
How do ostriches develop
Black African ostriches are born after 40 days of strong, covered with brownish, bristles protruding in all directions, and the chicks weigh, as a rule, about 1.2 kg. They very quickly learn to understand how and what they can eat, and in a couple of months they replace their down with the feathers like their mother’s, but they don’t leave their family for another 2 years.
True, if in the savanna the paths of two families cross with strausites, then each of them will try to capture the little ones for themselves and attach them to their brood. Because of this, there are families where up to 300 calves of different ages are recruited.
A year later, the ostrich bird is ready for independence, but for some time he will live with his brothers and sisters in the same flock. Until it is his time to dance his amazing marriage dance in front of the lady.
An emu is not an ostrich!
Now let's move from Africa to Australia. On this continent and on the island of Tasmania, the emu bird is very similar to the African ostrich. Until the 80s of the last century, it was considered a relative of ostriches. But then their classification was revised, and now they belong to the Casuar-like unit.
After the ostrich is the second largest bird. In height, it grows up to 180 cm, and weighs up to 55 kg. And outwardly, the emu resembles the bird being described, although the body is more compressed from the sides and looks stocky, and the legs and neck are shorter, which, by the way, makes a totally different impression.
The emu (we will call it the old way) has a black-brown color of feathers, and its head and neck are black. Only specialists can distinguish a male from a female in these birds, and even then during the mating season.
Emu also knows how to run
The emu has an atypical feather cover that helps the bird to be active even in the midday heat. Feathers have a hairy structure and resemble wool externally. Therefore, if the body of an emu, decorated with long feathers, looks like a live mound, then on the neck and head of the bird they are curly and short.
Like the African ostrich, it has rather long strong legs. Only an emu, 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 bird talents are not limited to this. It still floats on the water and, despite its weight, can swim quite a long distance.
How do emu breed
Emus eat mostly plant food - grass, roots, berries and seeds. True, in moments of hunger, birds do not disdain insects. Since the emu has no teeth, they, like African ostriches, are forced to swallow small pebbles so that food that has entered the digestive system can be further crushed.
Emus in nature have practically no enemies, so they live in small families - from two to five birds. In such a family, one male and several females. Emus males are great dads. They take upon themselves the entire burden of caring for the offspring, starting from the moment when the female lays several eggs in the hole dug by them.
The fact is that, like the African ostriches, these look after all the ladies of their pack, so the time to lay eggs comes from them almost simultaneously. And to postpone their females are sent to the nest, which showed the suitor. And so it turns out that up to 25 eggs from different females end up in one place. Emu egg is large, dark green, covered with a thick shell.
Emu male performs parental feat
Only the male is engaged in incubating eggs for an emu. He sets up a nest, and the female, on the contrary, leaves it as soon as all the eggs are laid. Hatching lasts up to 56 days. And no one substitutes the male. Sometimes he allows himself to rise to stretch his legs, and strolls around the nest or goes to drink water and eats a leaf or blade of grass along the way. This diet happy father is limited.
Emu lose during incubation up to 15% of their weight, but this does not prevent them from being attentive and caring dads, when after 2 months they have light spotted and fluffy babies.
Ostriches are not threatened with extinction
The beauty of the feathers and the durability of the skin of these birds almost led to the fact that they were no longer saved even by the famous speed of the ostrich in case of danger. – they ruthlessly exterminated. So, in 1966, the Middle Eastern species of these birds was identified as extinct.
But, due to the fact that from the end of the 19th c. their breeding has begun on farms; the total number of ostriches does not threaten anything else. They are bred in almost fifty countries of the world, regardless of climate.
This bird is unpretentious in its content, it withstands large temperature differences, and, according to experts, its meat resembles the taste of lean beef, not to mention the strong and beautiful skin that goes to make various products, and eggs (scrambled eggs from one ostrich a dish of twenty chicken eggs).
Feathers of birds do not pull out, and cut close to the skin surface twice a year. For this procedure, by the way, only deserved two, three-year-old males and older are suitable. In younger individuals, feathers have no commercial value.
African ostriches are currently the only members of the Ostrich family.. The largest flightless bird is found in the wild, but is also well bred in captivity, therefore it has become extremely popular on numerous ostrich farms.
African ostriches are the largest of all modern birds. The maximum height of an adult individual reaches 2.7 m, with body mass up to 155-156 kg. Ostriches have a dense body, long neck and small in size, flattened head. A rather soft bird's beak is straight and flat, with a kind of horny “claw” in the area of the upper mandible.
The eyes are rather large in size, with thick and relatively long eyelashes, which are located only on the upper eyelid. Bird vision is developed perfectly. The external auditory orifices are very noticeable on the head, due to the weak plumage, and in their form they resemble small and neat ears.
It is interesting! A characteristic feature of the representatives of the African Ostrich species is the absolute absence of keel, as well as underdeveloped muscles in the chest area. The skeleton of a flightless bird, with the exception of the femur, is not pneumatic.
The wings of an African ostrich are underdeveloped, with a pair of relatively large fingers ending in spurs or claws. The hind limbs of a flightless bird are strong and long, having two fingers. One of the fingers ends with a peculiar horn hoof, on which the ostrich rests in the process of running.
African ostriches have loose and curly, rather lush plumage. Feathers are located over the entire surface of the body more or less evenly, and the pterilia are completely absent. Feather structure is primitive:
- beards almost unlinked to each other,
- lack of formation of dense lamellar fans.
Important! The ostrich has no goiter, and the neck area is incredibly stretchable, which allows the bird to swallow whole large enough prey.
The head area, thighs and neck of a flightless bird have no plumage. On the breast of the ostrich there is also a bare leathery area or the so-called “corn callus”, which serves as a support for the bird in a lying position. An adult male has the basic black plumage, as well as the tail and wings of white coloring. Females are noticeably smaller than males, and are characterized by uniform dull coloring, which is represented by grayish-brown tones, off-white feathers on the wings and tail section.
Ostriches prefer to be in a mutually useful community with zebras and antelopes, therefore, following such animals, non-flying birds easily migrate. Thanks to good eyesight and fairly large growth, representatives of all ostrich subspecies are the very first to notice natural enemies, and very quickly give a signal of the imminent danger to other animals.
Frightened members of the Ostrich family scream loudly and are able to reach a running speed of up to 65-70 km or even more. At the same time, the step length of an adult bird is 4.0 m. Small strausits already at one month of age easily reach speeds of up to 45-50 km per hour, without reducing it even with sharp turns.
Outside the mating season, African ostriches tend to be kept in fairly small flocks, or so-called "families", consisting of one adult male, several chicks and four or five females.
It is interesting! It is widely believed that when frightened, ostriches buried their heads in the sand, is wrong. In fact, a large bird simply bows its head to the ground to swallow gravel or sand to improve the digestive process.
Ostriches show activity mainly with the onset of dusk, and in the very intense midday heat and at night, such birds often rest. The nighttime sleep of representatives of the African ostrich subspecies includes short periods of deep sleep, during which birds lie down on the ground and stretch their necks, as well as long periods of so-called half-sleep, followed by a seated posture with eyes closed and a high-raised neck.
African ostriches are capable of excellently enduring the winter period in the territory of the middle zone of our country, which is caused by a rather lush plumage and innate excellent health. When kept in captivity, special insulated poultry houses are erected for such birds, and the young stock born during the winter period is more hardened and sturdy than birds grown in the summer.
The African ostrich is represented by the North African, Masai, southern and Somali subspecies, as well as the extinct subspecies: the Syrian, or Arabic, or ostrich aleppo (Struthiо саem syriasus).
Important! A flock of ostriches is distinguished by the absence of a constant and stable composition, but is characterized by a strict hierarchy, therefore, individuals of higher rank always keep the neck and tail upright, and weaker birds - in an inclined position.
Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus camelus)
This subspecies is distinguished by the presence of noticeable baldness on the head, and is the largest to date. The maximum growth of adult birds reaches 2.73-2.74 m, with weight up to 155-156 kg. The limbs of the ostrich and the neck area have an intense red color. The eggshell is covered with thin rays of pores, forming a star-like pattern.
Somali ostrich (Struthio camelus molybdophanes)
In accordance with the results of the study of mitochondrial DNA, this subspecies is often regarded as an independent species. Males have the same baldness in the head, like all members of the common ostrich, but for the neck and extremities the presence of bluish-gray skin is characteristic. Somali ostrich females have particularly bright brownish feathers.
Masai ostrich (Struthio camelus massaicus)
The not-too-widespread inhabitant of the territory of East Africa has no significant differences from other representatives of the African ostrich, but the neck and limb areas during the breeding season acquire very bright and intense red staining. Outside this season, birds have a not too noticeable pink color.
Southern Ostrich (Struthio camelus australis)
One of the subspecies of the African ostrich. This flightless bird is characterized by a rather large size, and also differs in the grayish color of feathering on the neck and limbs. Mature females of this subspecies are significantly smaller than adult males.
Syrian Ostrich (Struthiocamelussyriacus)
Extinct in the mid-twentieth century, a subspecies of the African ostrich. Previously, this subspecies was fairly common in the north-eastern part of African countries. A relative subspecies of the Syrian ostrich is considered to be an ostrich, which was chosen to re-populate in Saudi Arabia. Syrian ostriches were found in the desert zones of Saudi Arabia.
Earlier, the common or North African ostrich lived in a large area, which covered the northern and western parts of the African continent. The bird met from Uganda to Ethiopia, from Algeria to Egypt, covering the territory of many West African countries, including Senegal and Mauritania.
To date, the habitat of this subspecies has decreased markedly, so now ordinary ostriches live only in some African countries, including Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic and Senegal.
The Somali ostrich lives in southern Ethiopia, in northeastern Kenya, as well as in Somalia, where the local population dubbed the bird, “Goyao”. This subspecies prefers fresh or single living. Masai ostriches are found in southern Kenya, in eastern Tanzania, as well as in Ethiopia and southern Somalia. The area of the southern subspecies of the African ostrich is located in the southwestern region of Africa. Southern ostriches are found in Namibia and Zambia, are common in Zimbabwe, as well as Botswana and Angola. This subspecies lives south of the Kunene and Zambezi rivers.
Ostrich eggs are hunted by many predators, including jackals, adult hyenas and scavengers. For example, vultures seize a large and sharp stone with a beak, which several times throws an ostrich egg on top, causing cracking of the shell.
Young, recently emerged chicks are also often attacked by lions, leopards and cheetahs. As shown by numerous observations, the greatest natural losses in the population of the African ostrich are observed exclusively during the incubation of eggs, as well as during the rearing of the young.
It is interesting! It is very well known and even documented cases when a defending adult ostrich with a single powerful blow of its foot inflicted a mortal wound to such large predators as lions.
Тем не менее, не следует думать, что страусы являются слишком пугливыми птицами. Взрослые особи сильные и могут быть достаточно агрессивными, поэтому вполне способны постоять при необходимости не только за себя и своих собратьев, но также легко защитить свое потомство. Разозленные страусы, не задумываясь, могут нападать на людей, посягнувших на охраняемую территорию.
Обычный пищевой рацион страусов представлен растительностью в виде всевозможных побегов, цветов, семян или плодов. On occasion, the flightless bird is also able to be eaten by some small animals, including insects such as locusts, reptiles, or rodents. Adults sometimes feed on the remains of eating ground or flying predators. Young ostriches prefer to eat only food of animal origin.
When kept in captivity, one adult ostrich consumes about 3.5-3.6 kg of food per day. For a complete digestion process, birds of this species swallow small pebbles or other hard objects, which is caused by the complete absence of teeth in the mouth.
Among other things, the ostrich - the bird is incredibly hardy, so it can quite a long time without drinking water. In this case, the body receives a sufficient amount of moisture from the vegetation eaten. Nevertheless, ostriches belong to the category of water-loving birds, therefore, on occasion, they very willingly bathe.
Reproduction and offspring
With the onset of the mating season, the African ostrich is able to capture a certain area, the total area of which is several kilometers. During this period, the staining of the legs and neck of the bird becomes very bright. Males are not allowed into the protected area, but the approach of females by such a “guard” is very welcome.
Puberty ostriches reach the age of three years. During the period of rivalry for the possession of a mature female, adult males of the ostrich make very original hissing or characteristic trumpet sounds. After a significant amount of air is collected in the bird's craw, the male rather sharply pushes it towards the esophagus, which causes the formation of a uterine roar, a bit like a lion growl.
Ostriches belong to the category of polygamous birds, therefore dominant males mate with all females entering the harem. However, couples only add up with the dominant female, which is very important for incubation. The mating process ends by digging a nest in the sand, the depth of which is 30-60 cm. Eggs are laid in such a male nest by all females.
It is interesting! The average length of the egg varies in the range of 15-21 cm with a width of 12-13 cm and a maximum weight of not more than 1.5-2.0 kg. The average egg shell thickness is 0.5-0.6 mm, and its texture can vary from a glossy glossy surface to a matt type with pores.
The incubation period is an average of 35-45 days. At night, the clutch is hatched exclusively by males of the African ostrich, and during the daytime the alternate duty is carried out by females, which are characterized by patronizing coloring, merging with the desert landscape.
Sometimes during the daytime, the clutch is left completely unattended by adult birds, and is warmed only by natural sun heat. In populations that differ in too many females, a huge number of eggs are found in the nest, some of which are devoid of full-fledged incubation, and therefore are rejected.
About an hour before the chicks are born, the ostrich begin to open the eggshell from the inside, resting on it with its spreading limbs and methodically hollowing its beak to form a small hole. After several such holes have been made, the chick with a big force hits them with its nape.
That is why almost all newborn ostrich meat often have significant hematomas in the head area. After the chicks are born, all non-viable eggs are ruthlessly destroyed by adult ostriches, and flying flies serve as an excellent forage for newborns.
A newborn ostrich bird sighted, well developed, covered with a light down. The average weight of such a chick is about 1.1-1.2 kg. Already on the second day after birth, ostrichs leave the nest and go with their parents in search of food. During the first two months, the chicks are covered with black and yellowish bristles, and the parietal area is distinguished by brick staining.
It is interesting! The active breeding season of ostriches inhabiting wet areas lasts from June to mid-October, and birds living in desert areas are able to breed throughout the year.
Over time, all strausita become covered with a real, fluffy plumage with a characteristic subspecies color. Males and females grapple with each other, wrestling the right to further concern for the brood, which is due to polygamy of such birds. Females of representatives of the African ostrich subspecies retain their productivity for a quarter of a century, and males - about forty years.
Population and species status
In the middle of the nineteenth century, ostriches began to be kept in many farms, which made it possible for the sharply shrinking population of such a flightless large bird to survive to our time. To date, more than fifty states, may well boast the presence of special farms that are actively engaged in the breeding of ostriches.
In addition to preserving the population, the main purpose of breeding ostriches in captivity is to get very expensive skin and feathers, as well as tasty and nutritious meat, a bit like traditional beef. Ostriches live long enough, and under favorable conditions, they are quite capable of living to the age of 70-80 years. Due to the mass content in captivity, the risk of complete extinction of such a bird is currently minimal.
The mention of the domestication of the ostrich was dated to 1650 BC, when such large birds accustomed to the territory of Ancient Egypt. However, the very first ostrich farm appeared in the nineteenth century in South America, after which the flightless birds were bred in African countries and North America, as well as in Southern Europe. When kept in captivity, representatives of African ostriches are very unpretentious and incredibly hardy.
Wild ostriches living in African countries, easily acclimatized, even in the northern regions of our country. Thanks to such unpretentiousness, the house maintenance of representatives of the family
Ostrich is gaining momentum in popularity. However, it must be remembered that all subspecies of the African ostrich are very sensitive to too sharp temperature fluctuations, but they are able to withstand cold temperatures to minus 30 o C. With the negative impact of drafts or sleet, the bird can get sick and die.
Domestic ostriches are omnivorous birds, so there is no particular difficulty in drawing up a diet for feeding. African ostriches eat quite a lot. The daily volume of food per adult is about 5.5-6.0 kg of feed, including green and cereal crops, root crops and fruits, as well as special vitamin-mineral complexes. When growing young stock, it is necessary to focus on protein feeds that stimulate the main growth processes.
The feeding ration of the parent flock is adjusted depending on the productive and unproductive period. Standard set of main feeds for domestic ostrich:
- corn porridge or corn grain,
- wheat in the form of a rather crumbly porridge,
- barley and oatmeal,
- sliced greens in the form of nettle, alfalfa, clover, peas and beans,
- sliced vitamin hay from clover, alfalfa and meadow herbs,
- grass meal
- root crops and tuber crops in the form of carrots, potatoes, beets, and ground pears,
- dairy products in the form of yogurt, cottage cheese, milk and liquid waste from the production of butter,
- almost any varieties of non-commercial fish,
- meat and bone meal and fish meal,
- crushed eggshells.
It is interesting! Nowadays, ostrich farming is a separate part of the poultry industry engaged in the production of meat, eggs and ostrich skin.
Feathers with a decorative appearance and ostrich fat, which has antihistamine, anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties, are also highly valued. Homemade ostriches - actively developing, promising and highly profitable industry.
Ostrich - description, structure, characteristics, photos. What does an ostrich look like?
The African ostrich is a unique in nature bird that cannot fly, has no keel and has only two toes, which is also an exception in the bird class.
Being the largest birds on the planet, large individuals of the African ostrich can boast a growth of 2.7 meters and an impressive weight of up to 156 kg. However, the average weight of an ostrich on average is about 50 kg, with the males somewhat larger than the females.
The ostrich skeleton is not pneumatic, with the exception of the femur. The ends of the pubic bones grew together and formed a closed pelvis, which is also uncharacteristic for other birds.
Author photo: Museum of Veterinary Anatomy FMVZ USP / Wagner Souza e Silva
African ostriches are distinguished by a dense constitution, a very elongated neck and a small head of a flattened shape, ending in a flat, wide, flat beak, on which a soft horny growth is located. The ostrich has large eyes, and the upper eyelid is dotted with long, fluffy eyelashes.
Author photo: Vvlasenko
Author photo: Donarreiskoffer
The growth of the sternum, or keel, characteristic of representatives of the class of birds, is completely absent in ostriches, and the sternum itself is poorly developed. On its surface is a bare area of thick skin - a special corn callus, which serves as a support when the bird lies on the ground.
Photo by: Diego Delso
The forelimbs of the bird are represented by underdeveloped wings, on each of them there are two fingers ending in sharp claws. The hind legs of the ostrich are long, strong and muscular, with two fingers, and only one of them has at its end a peculiar hoof that serves as a support during the run.
Photo by: Yathin S Krishnappa
Photo by: Skampetsky
Ostrich plumage is friable and curly, relatively evenly distributed over the surface of the body. There are no feathers on the head, neck and legs: they are covered with soft, short down.
The ostrich feathers are distinguished by a primitive structure: their beards practically do not interlock with each other and do not form a vane. The birds have very beautiful feathers and there are a lot of them: 16 primary feathers of the first order and from 20 to 23 of the second order, the steering feathers can be from 50 to 60.
Photo by: Essdras M Suarez / EMS Photography
Author photo: Bob-Nan
It is very easy to distinguish a male ostrich from a female. The plumage of adult males is black, and only the tail and wings are painted white. The females are rather inconspicuous: their feathers are distinguished by a protective grayish-brown color, and the wings and tail plumage look dirty-white.
Photo author: Vladimír Motyčka
What eats ostrich?
The ostrich is an omnivorous bird, and although the diet of young individuals is predominantly animal food, adult birds feed on all kinds of vegetation. Their diet consists of herbs, shoots and seeds of plants, flowers, ovaries, and fruits, including quite tough ones. Nevertheless, adult individuals are far from vegetarians and, if possible, will not give up various insects, for example, locusts, as well as lizards, small rodents and fell in the form of under-eaten prey of large predators. Ostriches have nothing to chew on food for, therefore they eat sand and small pebbles, and often various inedible objects to improve digestion: splinters, pieces of plastic, metal, and even nails. Also, ostriches can calmly fast for several days.
Like camels, ostriches are able to do without water for a long time: they have enough liquid from the green mass of plants consumed. But getting access to water, the ostrich drinks a lot and willingly. With the same great pleasure, ostriches bathe.
Types of ostriches, photo and name.
During the Pleistocene and Pliocene epoch, there were several varieties of ostriches that lived in Western and Central Asia, in India and the southern regions of Eastern Europe. In the chronicles of the ancient Greek historian Xenophon, these birds are mentioned, inhabiting the desert landscapes of the Middle East, west of the Euphrates River.
The uncontrolled extermination of birds led to a sharp reduction in the population, and today the only species of ostriches includes 4 surviving subspecies inhabiting the expanses of Africa. Below is a description of the subspecies of the African ostrich.
- Ordinary or north african ostrich (lat Struthio camelus camelus) different bald head. This is the largest subspecies, whose growth reaches 2.74 meters, while the ostrich weighs up to 156 kg. The limbs and neck of the ostrich are painted in an intense red color, and the eggshell is covered with thin rays of pores, forming a star-like pattern. Previously, ordinary ostriches lived in a large area spanning the north and west of the African continent, from Ethiopia and Uganda in the south of the range to Algeria and Egypt in the north, covering West African countries, including Mauritania and Senegal. These days, the habitat of these birds has significantly decreased, and now the common ostrich lives in only a few African countries: Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic and Senegal.
The common ostrich (North African ostrich) male (lat. Struthio camelus camelus). Photo by MathKnight
Common ostrich female (lat. Struthio camelus camelus). Author photo: לומי שטרית
- Masay ostrich (lat Struthio camelus massaicus) - inhabitant of East Africa (southern Kenya, eastern Tanzania, Ethiopia, southern Somalia). During the breeding season, its neck and limbs are colored intense red. Outside the breeding season, they are pink.
Masai ostrich male (lat. Struthio camelus massaicus). Photo by Nicor
Masay ostrich female (lat. Struthio camelus massaicus). Photo by: Nevit Dilmen
- Somali ostrich (lat Struthio camelus molybdophanes) based on the analysis of mitochondrial DNA is sometimes considered as a separate species. Males have the same bald head as representatives of the subspecies of common ostriches, but their neck and limbs have a bluish-gray skin color, and the females of the Somali ostrich have especially bright brown feathers. Somali ostriches live in southern Ethiopia, northeastern Kenya and Somalia, and the local population calls them the beautiful word "goyio." This subspecies of ostriches prefers to live in pairs or singly.
Photo by: David Bygott
- Southern Ostrich (lat Struthio camelus australis) is also distinguished by the gray color of the plumage of the neck and limbs, and its range is dotted along the southwestern part of Africa. The ostrich is found in Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola and Botswana; it lives south of the Zambezi and Kunene rivers.
Southern male ostrich (lat. Struthio camelus australis). Photo author: Bernard DUPONT
Southern ostrich female (lat. Struthio camelus australis). Photo by: Yathin S Krishnappa
Reproduction of ostriches.
Puberty of ostriches comes at the age of 2-4 years. During the token period, each male vigilantly protects his personal territory within a radius of 2 to 15 square kilometers and ruthlessly expels competitors. The neck and limbs of the current male become bright red, and to attract females, it falls to its knees, intensively beats its wings, arches its neck back and rubs the back of its head against its back. During the rivalry for owning a female, the males make very original trumpet and hissing sounds. Having accumulated more air into the goiter, the male ostrich abruptly pushes it into the esophagus, announcing the surroundings with a sort of uterine roar, resembling a lion's growl.
Ostriches are polygamous, therefore the dominant male mates with all females of the harem, but makes a pair exclusively with the dominant female for the subsequent incubation of the offspring. After mating, the future father personally digs a nest up to 30-60 cm deep in the sand, where all fertilized females periodically lay eggs, performing a similar procedure once every two days.
Author photo: Alina Zienowicz
Among all bird diversity, the ostrich has the largest eggs, although, in relation to the body, they are quite small. The average size of an ostrich egg is 15 to 21 cm long and about 13 cm wide. Egg weight reaches 1.5-2 kg, which is equivalent to 25-35 eggs of chickens. The shell thickness is approximately 0.6 mm, and its color is straw yellow, sometimes darker or, conversely, lighter. In eggs laid by different females, the texture of the shell is different and can be glossy and shiny or matte and porous.
Author photo: Raul654
Ostrich egg compared to chicken and quail eggs. Author photo: Rainer Zenz
In the inhabitants of the northern part of the range, the common clutch usually contains from 15 to 20 eggs, in the south - about 30, in the East African population the number of eggs in the nest often reaches 50-60. After the eggs are laid, the dominant female ostrich makes its competitors retire and rolls their eggs into the middle of the fossa, determining them by the texture of the shell.
The incubation period lasts from 35 to 45 days, at night only male incubates the clutch, females take turns in the daytime. Such a choice is not accidental: due to the protective coloring, the females go unnoticed against the background of the desert landscape. During the daytime masonry is sometimes left unattended and warmed by the heat of the sun. Despite the general care of parents, many clutches die due to insufficient incubation. In populations where there are too many females, the number of eggs in the clutch may be such that the male cannot physically cover all offspring with his body.
An hour before the ostrich chick is born, it begins to open the egg's shell, rests with its splayed legs on its sharp and blunt ends, and methodically hammer the beak at one point until a small hole is formed. Таким образом, птенец проделывает несколько дырочек, а потом с силой бьет в это место затылком, поэтому страусята часто рождаются со значительными гематомами, имеющими свойство быстро проходить. Когда на свет появился последний птенец, взрослый страус безжалостно уничтожает нежизнеспособные яйца, лежащие с краю, и сразу же на пир собираются мухи, служащие кормом для птенцов.
Автор фото: Pries
Новорожденные страусята зрячие, хорошо развитые, их тельца покрывает легкий пушок, а вес составляет около 1,2 кг. The chicks that came into the world move beautifully and leave the nest the very next day, going with the parent in search of food. In the first two months, the ostrich cover the black and yellow bristles, the crown is brick-colored, and the neck has a dirty white color with dark longitudinal stripes. Only with time do they form real feathers, and the outfit of all chicks becomes similar in color to the plumage of females. Ostusits males acquire the characteristic black color for adults only in the second year of life.
Taken from the site: www.reddit.com
Ostrich bones are very attached to each other, and if two groups of chicks have met, they can no longer be separated, due to which in the savannas of Africa there are often bees, consisting of straus of different ages. Being polygamous birds, the male and the female start a fight between themselves, and the stronger parent gets further care of the brood.
Author photo: Magnus Manske
Enemies of ostriches in nature.
Jackals, hyenas and scavengers hunt ostrich eggs. For example, a vulture captures a large stone with its beak and throws it on top of an egg several times until it cracks. Lions, cheetahs, leopards or hyenas can also attack chicks.
It is in vain to think that ostriches are shy birds: in fact, they are quite aggressive and able to stand up for themselves and their offspring. An angry ostrich, without hesitation, will attack a person who has encroached on his territory, and even mature predators are afraid of adult birds. Cases have been recorded when a defending ostrich with one powerful blow to the leg fatally wounded an adult lion.
Photo by: Kevin Power
Birds, similar to the African ostrich.
There are several species of birds that are very similar to the ostrich. But they do not belong to the family of ostrich and the genus of ostriches. Below is a brief description.
Darwin Nandu the same small nandu or dandy (lat Rhea pennata) - A flightless large-sized bird from the order nandoobraznyh, family of nandu, genus nandu. The plumage of a bird is gray or grayish-brown, on the back there are white spots. Height in the back is about 90 cm, weight varies between 15-25 kg. Darwin Nanda lives in southern Argentina, including Patagonia and the southern Andes, in Bolivia, in Argentina and on the island of Tierra del Fuego.
Photo by: CHUCAO
Big Nandu, Ordinary Nanduhe northern nandu (lat Rhea americana) - flightless bird from the order nandoobraznyh, family Nandu, genus Nandu. Typical representative of South America. It lives in Argentina and Bolivia, in Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The height of a large nandu to temechka reaches 127-140 cm, weight varies from 20 to 25 kilograms or more. The color of the feathers is brown-gray, often among birds there are albino specimens with white plumage and bright blue eyes.
Photo author: Rufus46
Cassowary (lat Casuarius) - a large-sized bird, unable to fly. It belongs to the order of cazuar-like, family of cazuar, kind of cassowary. Scientists have identified three types of cusparies. Individuals reach 150 cm in height with a weight of up to 80 kg. A distinctive feature of the bird - a kind of outgrowth-helmet on his head. The head and neck of the bird is usually non-feathered, the coloring of feathers on the body is black, two types have bright “earrings” of different colors in the neck. Cassowals live in the thickets of the New Guinea tropics, in northeastern Australia, and are found on the islands of Aru, Muruk, Salawati, Yapen.
Photo by: Michael Schmid
Emu (lat Dromaius novaehollandiae) - a large flightless bird from the order of casuaridae, family of emu, genus of emu. In height reaches 150-170 cm, weighing at the same time from 45 to 55 kg. Coloring feathers gray-brown. Emu is widely distributed almost throughout Australia.
Author photo: Benjamint444
African ostrich meat is a rather useful product, which, according to some nutritionists, overtook even popular turkey in terms of minimum cholesterol with the maximum amount of protein. Ostrich meat has a dark red color, tastes a bit like veal, cooks very quickly, but with a long heat treatment can lose tenderness and juiciness. Ostrich meat is very much appreciated in the countries of Asia and Europe, becoming quite a familiar restaurant dish among connoisseurs of delicious food with exotic notes. Appetizing steaks, roasts, cold snacks, meatballs are cooked from ostrich meat, boiled, stewed and baked. The lean meat of the African ostrich contains manganese, potassium and iron, it is rich in phosphorus, B vitamins and nicotinic acid.
Do ostriches hide their heads in the sand?
There is an erroneous opinion that ostriches hide their heads in the sand, but they don’t do anything similar. The appearance of this myth was promoted by the manner of the birds standing, bowing their heads to the ground, and swallowing small pebbles, promoting digestion.
Also, an ostrich can drop its head on the sand after a long run. The bird has no strength left, and thus it rests.