Paradoxical? The largest bird in the world is unable to fly. The only survivor of the Struthionidae genus, the ostrich is a member of the ratite family (along with the kiwi, the cassowary and the emu): its sternum lacks a wishbone, the bone on which the muscles connected to the wings of flying birds are attached.
Nevertheless, it holds some records: its measurements (on average 2 m for the female and 2m80 for the male, with an average weight of 90 and 150 kilos respectively) and its speed of movement: 40km/hour on average, with peaks of 70km/h.
Another record: the ostrich is known worldwide, while in the wild, it lives only in some parts of Africa (south of the Sahara, Somalia, Ethiopia, Zambia) and in Australia.
It is true that it has a surprising silhouette: a large rounded body perched on thin and powerful legs. And this long neck which ends on a funny head: in proportion, a pin head, with two eyes which are the biggest of the terrestrial animal world.
And then, there is this temperament: between its way of putting its head in the sand and its sense of escape, it incarnates wrongly, the policy of the ostrich.
The ostrich, its ancestor was flying
This is an untruth that in 2014, researchers from the University of Adelaide put an end to: at the time of the dinosaurs, not only did ostriches fly, but they would not have been able to get to Australia and New Zealand, already detached from the continent, other than by air.
Except that the ostrich was very clever: with the disappearance of the dinosaurs, it took advantage of the food manna available. And took to the air. In Oceania as in Africa, it became overweight: as a result, it was impossible to fly. But this was less imperative for it, considering the lesser number of predators.
The ostrich, its family life
Ostriches have a gregarious instinct: we are stronger when we are together. But these groups of five or six ostriches have only one male for several ostriches.
And don’t imagine that he struts around: at the time of reproduction, he chooses the dominant female.
As for the isolated ostriches, they are males without their procession of females. Note that this is not so rare. And that they survive all the same.
The ostrich, its egg
Its egg is the biggest in the world: a kilo and a half, the equivalent of twenty-four chicken eggs. That is to say an omelette for a dozen people. As for making a boiled egg, it takes forty-five minutes.
The ostrich naturally applies the colocation and the male-female equality: the females share the same nest, for a better surveillance. And the eggs are incubated alternately by the female (during the day) and by the male (at night). Let’s say that the females have invented the night work, but not for them.
After the forty-five days of brooding, the cute ostrich makes its appearance: it will grow of thirty centimeters not month!
The ostrich, its legs
The ostrich is nomadic: in the savannah, it travels for miles to feed itself. Scarcity has made it omnivorous, but it prefers grass, which it needs five to six kilos per day.
She also needs to drink a lot, which is also miles.
Its legs are very powerful. They end with these two toes, which serve as a marathon runner. The inner finger is the more developed of the two.
But they are also a weapon of defense: the ostrich is able to kill a lion or a leopard of a blow of legs.
Be careful with the man, it can happen to him as much.
The ostrich, its head in the ground
This unfortunate reputation sticks to its plumage: the ostrich seeks its food on the ground, grass of the savannah and small pebbles that facilitate digestion. And during incubation, it gets rid of lizards and other intruders, which take advantage of its heat. In any case, in case of predator, you must admit that putting the head in the sand would not be of much use to her. Better to take its famous legs to its neck.
Two representative species
There are two species of ostrich: the African ostrich (Struthio camelus) and the Somali ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes).
Although Somalia is in Africa, the two species are distinguished by their distinct geographical distributions: the African ostrich lives south of the Sahara, the Somali ostrich in the eastern part of the continent.
As for real differences, the African male has black plumage and white tail, but the Somali ostrich would have a much more immaculate white tail and less pink neck. It would also be more solitary.
As for the ostrich of the Bible (Struthio camelus syriacus), its lineage is extinct: according to the book of Job, it did many things, including the maintenance of the roadway of which it ate the grass. The nomads also enjoyed ostrich racing. Except that it has long since disappeared from what was Mesopotamia.
The laughing ostrich, not very far
In Montmachoux in Seine-et-Marne, Emmanuel and Sylvette Robert have an educational farm with a hundred and thirty ostriches. Breeding ? The ostrich is not recognized as a domestic animal, which requires some administrative procedures. For the visitor, it’s more fun: individual, family or group visits.
In case of rain, don’t worry about the ostriches: they can stand the cold and the rain as well as the heat. They are only sensitive to wind.
The ostrich, an ecological role
It is never good for biodiversity to lose species. In Niger, the ostrich has been reintroduced for the good balance of ecosystems. And then, the ostrich is a bit the “pig of Africa”.
Its feathers are used in cabarets. As for its meat, which is less fatty than that of beef, go and find out if they are not an ecological alternative for the diehard carnivores…