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Animal Spotlight: The Ostrich

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Photo provided by Dave and Naomi Estment

Can an ostrich fly if it weighs 350 lbs and is 9 ft. tall? The answer is no—not unless it has jet engines strapped to its wings. But, the ostrich does have one airplane capability working for it—the ostrich can use its wings to direct its course when running and help the animal to keep balance.

What ostriches can’t do in the air they make up for in their great running speed. Running in sudden bursts at speeds slightly more than 40 miles per hour (70 kilometers per hour), the ostrich can move across large distances without tiring. The ostrich cannot maintain this speed for long periods of time though, so, on average, it runs 30 mph (50 kph) and has the ability take 10 – 15 ft. (3 – 5 meter) strides. 

What else makes the ostrich one of the most unique birds in the world?

• Built for running, the ostrich’s legs are long and each foot has two toes. These toes enable the creature to run faster.  

• Ostriches can be life-threatening if they feel they are being attacked. If the force of their powerful kick doesn’t kill a large animal, its 4 inch (10 centimeter) claw on each foot will probably do the trick. 

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Photo provided by Dave and Naomi Estment

• On average, the ostrich can live up to 30 – 40 years of age and is only found in select areas of central Africa and southern Africa.

• Not only is the ostrich the biggest and heaviest bird, it also has the largest eye out of any other land animal. Ostriches also have excellent vision, which makes it easier for them to see predators in the distance. 

• On average, herds of ostriches reach up to 10 members and consist of an alpha male and a dominant hen, as well as several other hens. During breeding season, the alpha male will mate with the dominant female and sometimes with other hens in the group. All other hens in the group must place their eggs in the dominant hen’s nest. The dominant hen’s eggs get the most attention and are in the center of the nest.  

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Photo provided by Dave and Naomi Estment

• Ostriches’ main diet consists of plants, roots, and seeds, but also includes insects, lizards, and other small creatures found throughout their territory. Because ostriches eat so much vegetation, their main source of hydration comes from plants and not from large sources of water. When an ostrich eats, it collects food in the back of its throat until there is a substantial chunk of food, at which time they will swallow.

The beautiful photographs in this post are provided by Dave Estment a well-known South African photographer and are copyrighted by Dave Estment.  To see more of Dave’s gorgeous work, please visit http://www.naomiestment.wordpress.com.  Thank you very much Dave & Naomi for sharing your work with us and everyone wanting to Live the Magic of Africa.

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