Ostrich

Struthio camelus

The ostrich or common ostrich is either one or two species of large flightless birds native to Africa, the only living member of the genus ''Struthio'', which is in the ratite family.
Ostrich on the Cape  Geotagged,Ostrich,South Africa,Struthio camelus,Winter

Appearance

Ostriches usually weigh from 63 to 145 kilograms, or as much as two adult humans. Ostriches of the East African race averaged 115 kg in males and 100 kg in females, while the nominate subspecies was found to average 111 kg in unsexed adults.

Exceptional male ostriches can weigh up to 156.8 kg. At sexual maturity, male ostriches can be from 2.1 to 2.8 m in height, while female ostriches range from 1.7 to 2.0 m tall. New chicks are fawn in colour, with dark brown spots. During the first year of life, chicks grow at about 25 cm per month. At one year of age, ostriches weigh approximately 45 kilograms. Their lifespan is up to 40–45 years.

The feathers of adult males are mostly black, with white primaries and a white tail. However, the tail of one subspecies is buff. Females and young males are greyish-brown and white. The head and neck of both male and female ostriches is nearly bare, with a thin layer of down. The skin of the female's neck and thighs is pinkish gray, while the male's is blue-gray, gray or pink dependent on subspecies.

The long neck and legs keep their head up to 2.8 m above the ground, and their eyes are said to be the largest of any land vertebrate: 50 mm in diameter; they can therefore perceive predators at a great distance. The eyes are shaded from sunlight from above. However, the head and bill are relatively small for the birds' huge size, with the bill measuring 12 to 14.3 cm.
Ostrich - New Legs A flock of young Ostrich visit a watering hole.

Synchronization in nature is magical, spectacular and magnificent.  These little guys probably hatched about 2 weeks ago.  With the rains expected soon, their survival will depend on it.  Grasshoppers and small insects is their main food.  BUT ... the young Eagles are now also ready to leave the nest ... their main enemy.  

The mother and father Ostriches (both sexes care for the young and eggs) will protect the young, but because the chicks normally number in the twenties, it is not easy to protect them all.  

Their number one fear.  
http://www.jungledragon.com/image/33323/bateleur_eagle_-_new_wings.html
 Geotagged,Namibia,Ostrich,Spring,Struthio camelus,beautiful,camouflage,chicks,cute,life,nature,spots,vulnerable,water,wild,wildlife,young

Distribution

Ostriches formerly occupied Africa north and south of the Sahara, East Africa, Africa south of the rain forest belt, and much of Asia Minor. Today ostriches prefer open land and are native to the savannas and Sahel of Africa, both north and south of the equatorial forest zone.

In Southwest Africa they inhabit the semi-desert or true desert. They rarely go above 100 m . Farmed ostriches in Australia have established feral populations. The Arabian ostriches in the Near and Middle East were hunted to extinction by the middle of the 20th century. Ostriches have occasionally been seen inhabiting islands on the Dahlak Archipelago, in the Red Sea near Eritrea.
Ostrich Trio These 3 ostriches were part of a group of maybe 20 ostriches in the Kimana Sanctuary in Kenya. Geotagged,Kenya,Ostrich,Struthio camelus,Summer

Status

The wild ostrich population has declined drastically in the last 200 years, with most surviving birds in reserves or on farms. However, its range remains very large, leading the IUCN and BirdLife International to treat it as a species of Least Concern. Of its 5 subspecies, the Middle Eastern ostrich became extinct around 1966, and the North African ostrich has declined to the point where it now is included on CITES Appendix I and some treat it as Critically Endangered.
Ostrich Family Run An Ostrich hen runs down a dirt road with her flock of chicks following.  Both Ostrich parents will care for the young, and defend them from enemies such as Jackals (canine predator) and Eagles.   Africa,Geotagged,Namibia,adorable,beautiful,chicks,color,cute,fantastic,free,funny,humor,magnificent,ostrich,run,wild,wildlife

Behavior

Ostriches normally spend the winter months in pairs or alone. Only 16 percent of ostrich sightings were of more than two birds. During breeding season and sometimes during extreme rainless periods ostriches live in nomadic groups of five to 100 birds that often travel together with other grazing animals, such as zebras or antelopes. Ostriches are diurnal, but may be active on moonlit nights.

They are most active early and late in the day. The male ostrich territory is between 2 and 20 km2.
Ostrich baby in Etosha NP There is an evolutionary theory that baby animals look cute so that mothers and other animals naturally form stronger bonds. This may be true for mammals, but many baby birds aren't very cute - although this one sort of is, despite the porcupine looking body. Etosha NP,Geotagged,Namibia,Ostrich,Spring,Struthio camelus,namibia

Food

They mainly feed on seeds, shrubs, grass, fruit and flowers; occasionally they also eat insects such as locusts.

Lacking teeth, they swallow pebbles that act as gastroliths to grind food in the gizzard. When eating, they will fill their gullet with food, which is in turn passed down their esophagus in the form of a ball called a bolus. The bolus may be as much as 210 ml. After passing through the neck the food enters the gizzard and is worked on by the aforementioned pebbles. The gizzard can hold as much as 1,300 g, of which up to 45% may be sand and pebbles.

Ostriches can go without drinking for several days, using metabolic water and moisture in ingested plants, but they enjoy liquid water and frequently take baths where it is available. They can survive losing up to 25% of their body weight through dehydration.
Male Ostrich neck and head closeup, Ngorongoro crater, Tanzania The pinker, the more ready to mate. Africa,Ngorongoro,Ngorongoro Crater,Ostrich,Serengeti area,Struthio camelus,Tanzania

Predators

As a flightless species in the rich biozone of the African savanna, the ostrich must face a variety of formidable predators throughout its life cycle. Animals that prey on ostriches of all ages may include cheetahs, lions, leopards, African hunting dogs, and spotted hyena.

Ostriches can often outrun most of their predators in a pursuit, so most predators will try to ambush an unsuspecting bird using obstructing vegetation or other objects. A notable exception is the cheetah, which is the most prolific predator of adult ostriches due to its own great running speeds.

Common predators of nests and young ostriches include jackals, various birds of prey, warthogs, mongoose and Egyptian vultures. If the nest or young are threatened, either or both of the parents may create a distraction, feigning injury. However, they may sometimes fiercely fight predators, especially when chicks are being defended, and have been capable of killing even their largest enemies, the lions, in such confrontations.
Male Ostrich in Ngorongoro crater habitat Ostriches spend their lives looking down to feed, and looking up for danger and mating partners. That about sums it up. Africa,Ngorongoro,Ngorongoro Crater,Ostrich,Serengeti area,Struthio camelus,Tanzania

Defense

With their acute eyesight and hearing, ostriches can sense predators such as lions from far away. When being pursued by a predator, they have been known to reach speeds in excess of 70 km/h, and can maintain a steady speed of 50 km/h, which makes the ostrich the world's fastest two-legged animal.

When lying down and hiding from predators, the birds lay their heads and necks flat on the ground, making them appear like a mound of earth from a distance, aided by the heat haze in their hot, dry habitat.

When threatened, ostriches run away, but they can cause serious injury and death with kicks from their powerful legs. Their legs can only kick forward. Contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not bury their heads in sand to avoid danger.
Full Ostrich family, Serengeti Too far away to be a good picture, but I for one had never seen baby Ostriches before. This scene has the father (left), mother (right), and 8 youngsters. The skull to the right is a reminder that we're in the Serengeti, and that this is a vulnerable time for the family. Africa,Ostrich,Serengeti National Park,Serengeti North,Serengeti area,Struthio camelus,Tanzania

Evolution

The earliest fossil of ostrich-like birds is the ''Palaeotis'' living near the Asiatic steppes from the Middle Eocene, a mid-sized flightless bird that was originally believed to be a bustard. Apart from this enigmatic bird, the fossil record of the ostriches continues with several species of the modern genus ''Struthio'' which are known from the Early Miocene onwards.

References:

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