Species profile

Name: ostriches are a group of large, flightless birds found in Africa. There are two living species: the common ostrich (Struthio camelus), and the Somali ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes).

Appearance: ostriches are easily recognised by their distinctive – sometimes comical – appearance. They have long legs and necks, and an abundance of black and white feathers. These long legs allow them to run at speeds of up to 70 km per hour – making them the fastest birds on land!

Size: the common ostrich is the largest living species of bird in the world – reaching 2.8 metres tall and weighing up to 145 kg – as much as two adult humans! Somali ostriches are slightly smaller.

Diet: they mainly feed on seeds, shrubs, grass, fruit, and flowers, although they also occasionally eat insects such as locusts. Ostriches don’t have teeth so they swallow pebbles to help grind up the food in their stomachs.

Did you know: ostriches are record-breaking animals – being the largest species of bird, having the largest eyes of any land animal, being the fastest birds on land, and laying the largest eggs of any animal! These amazing adaptations have meant that ostriches have inspired human societies for thousands of years. A statue of Arsinoe II of Egypt riding a common ostrich was found in a tomb in Egypt. Hunter-gatherers in the Kalahari use ostrich eggshells as water containers and jewellery. And engraved ostrich eggs have even been found as early as 60,000 BP.  In Roman times they were captured for use in gladiator battles and for eating. More recently, their feathers and skins have been used in fashion since in 19th century.

Location: ostriches are found throughout the open arid and semi-arid habitats of Africa. The Somali ostrich occurs in the Horn of Africa, having been isolated from the common ostrich by the East African Rift.

Where to see Ostriches

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see ostriches in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
very high
very good

Photo credit: Bluesnap under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay

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