Somali Ostrich
Struthio molybdophanes
Population size
Life Span
40-50 years
Top speed
km/h mph 

The Somali ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes) is a large flightless bird native to the Horn of Africa. It was previously considered a subspecies of the Common ostrich, but was identified as a distinct species in 2014.


In general, the Somali ostrich is similar to other ostriches. The skin of the neck and thighs of the Somali ostrich is blue (rather than pinkish), becoming bright blue on the male during the mating season. The neck lacks a typical broad white ring, and the tail feathers are white. The males are larger than the females. The Somali ostrich is similar in size to other ostriches so far as is known, perhaps averaging marginally smaller in body mass than some subspecies of Common ostrich (at least the nominate race, S. c. camelus).




Somali ostriches are found in north-eastern Ethiopia, southern Djibouti, most of Kenya, and across most of Somalia. These birds prefer semi-arid and arid bushier, more thickly vegetated areas including grassland, shrubland, savanna, and woodland. They can also be found in cultivated areas such as pastureland.

Somali Ostrich habitat map

Climate zones

Somali Ostrich habitat map

Habits and Lifestyle

Somali ostriches are active during the day. They are usually seen singly or in pairs wandering among vegetated areas browsing. With their acute eyesight and hearing, ostriches can sense predators from far away. When being pursued by a predator, they have been known to reach speeds in excess of 70 km/h (40 mph). When lying down and hiding from predators, ostriches 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, they can also cause serious injury and death with kicks from their powerful legs.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

In general, ostriches are herbivores and mainly eat seeds, shrubs, grass, fruit, and flowers. They may also sometimes consume insects, small lizards, and occasionally animal remains left by carnivorous predators.

Mating Habits

chick, hatchling

Little information is known about the reproductive behavior of Somali ostriches.


Population threats

The Somali ostrich was common in the central and southern regions of Somalia in the 1970s and 1980s. However, following the political disintegration of that country and the lack of any effective wildlife conservation, its range and numbers there have since been shrinking as a result of uncontrolled hunting for meat, medicinal products, and eggs, with the bird facing eradication in the Horn of Africa. In Kenya, it is farmed for meat, feathers, and eggs.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Somali ostrich total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List, and its numbers today are decreasing.

Coloring Pages


1. Somali ostrich Wikipedia article -
2. Somali ostrich on The IUCN Red List site -

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