The common ostrich (Struthio camelus ), or simply ostrich, is a species of flightless bird native to certain large areas of Africa and is the largest living bird species. It is one of two extant species of ostriches, the only living members of the genus Struthio in the ratite order of birds. The other is the Somali ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes ), which was recognized as a distinct species by BirdLife International in 2014 having been previously considered a distinctive subspecies of ostrich.Show More
The common ostrich belongs to the order Struthioniformes. Struthioniformes previously contained all the ratites, such as the kiwis, emus, rheas, and cassowaries. However, recent genetic analysis has found that the group is not monophyletic, as it is paraphyletic with respect to the tinamous, so the ostriches are now classified as the only members of the order. Phylogenetic studies have shown that it is the sister group to all other members of Palaeognathae and thus the flighted tinamous are the sister group to the extinct moa. It is distinctive in its appearance, with a long neck and legs, and can run for a long time at a speed of 55 km/h (34 mph) with short bursts up to about 70 km/h (40 mph), the fastest land speed of any bird. The common ostrich is the largest living species of bird and largest living dinosaur. It lays the largest eggs of any living bird (the extinct elephant birds of Madagascar and the giant moa of New Zealand laid larger eggs).
The common ostrich's diet consists mainly of plant matter, though it also eats invertebrates and small reptiles. It lives in nomadic groups of 5 to 50 birds. When threatened, the ostrich will either hide itself by lying flat against the ground or run away. If cornered, it can attack with a kick of its powerful legs. Mating patterns differ by geographical region, but territorial males fight for a harem of two to seven females.
The common ostrich is farmed around the world, particularly for its feathers, which are decorative and are also used as feather dusters. Its skin is used for leather products and its meat is marketed commercially, with its leanness a common marketing point.Show Less
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example, foliage, for the main component of its die...
Seed predation, often referred to as granivory, is a type of plant-animal interaction in which granivores (seed predators) feed on the seeds of pla...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Flightless birds are birds that through evolution lost the ability to fly. There are over 60 extant species including the well known ratites (ostri...
Precocial species are those in which the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. Precocial species are normall...
Grazing is a method of feeding in which a herbivore feeds on plants such as grasses, or other multicellular organisms such as algae. In agriculture...
A cursorial organism is one that is adapted specifically to run. An animal can be considered cursorial if it has the ability to run fast (e.g. chee...
Nomadic animals regularly move to and from the same areas within a well-defined range. Most animals travel in groups in search of better territorie...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Oviparous animals are female animals that lay their eggs, with little or no other embryonic development within the mother. This is the reproductive...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
Flocking birds are those that tend to gather to forage or travel collectively. Avian flocks are typically associated with migration. Flocking also ...
A dominance hierarchy (formerly and colloquially called a pecking order) is a type of social hierarchy that arises when members of animal social gr...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
These enormous birds, usually taller than a human, live in the deserts and savannas of Africa. They are the tallest, largest, and heaviest birds alive, and one of the most unique. Their relatively small head features the largest eyes (5 cm in diameter) of any land animal, protected by their long black lashes. A male has bold black-and-white markings that are used to attract females, while females are light brown. Ostriches have rather prehistoric-looking feet, and are the only birds with only two toes on each foot. The inner one is thick and strong, and is adapted for running. It has a formidable claw, 10 cm long, which may be used in defense.
Ostriches live in the wild in western and eastern Africa, as well as South Africa. Once they roamed all over Africa, Asia, and the Arabian Peninsula. Ostriches farmed in Australia, New Mexico, and Israel have established feral populations. These birds inhabit 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 can also be found in dry grasslands, scrubby areas, and pasturelands.
Ostriches live in flocks numbering 5 to 50, and are normally found alongside grazing animals such as antelope and zebras. During the breeding season, of about 5 months, flocks will occupy territories extending 2-15 sq km. Outside the breeding season, smaller, looser flocks of 2-5 members form. Ostriches have a lifestyle which is nomadic and mostly diurnal, being active early in the day as well as late. Males are territorial, defending their territory aggressively. These birds like water and frequently take baths, if given the opportunity, and are good swimmers. Sometimes, to escape detection, they lie down with their necks outstretched, which probably was the origin of the myth that an ostrich buries its head in the sand. They use posture to threaten a rival or predator, fluffing up the feathers of their wings and hissing loudly. These birds are fast runners and usually will comfortably outrun their predators. Ostriches are very vocal, and their sounds include whistling, booming, snorting and hissing.
Ostriches are polygynous, each male having three to five hens, with a “major” hen and several “minor” hens. Dominant males defend their territory and mate with their major hen and other hens within the area. The major hen is given more careful consideration, getting first choice of nesting ground. She lays her eggs first, then allows the others in the flock to produce theirs. The major hen will know which are her eggs and protects her clutch by pushing away other hens’ eggs. The mating season starts in March or April, running until September. The male will scrape out a nest, which is just a depression in the ground, then attracts the hens by dancing, fluffing up his feathers and flapping his wings, as well as swinging his head while going down on his knees. Females lay 2 to 11 creamy eggs in the communal nest. Only dominant male and major female guard the nest. The eggs are incubated for about 6 weeks. The female is on the nest during daylight hours, and the male at night. Within the first three days the chicks leave the nest. They fledge when they are 4 to 5 months old, and by about 18 months they are fully grown, reaching maturity at 2 to 4 years.
Although not considered globally threatened and still relatively abundant, in recent times, ostrich numbers have decreased, as has their range. Their feathers and eggs have been used by humans for a long time, almost causing their extermination in northern and southern Africa. Overgrazing has caused habitat destruction and greatly reduced their range, this currently being the main threat.
According to the Animal-Corner resource, the total population size of the ostrich is around 2 million individuals worldwide. Currently this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List, but its numbers today are decreasing.