Today, the ostrich is the largest species of bird among all living on the planet. They grow up to 2.5 m in height, and the adult can weigh about 180 kg. They mostly feed on vegetation, but sometimes they can eat insects, as well as small invertebrates. From time to time this bird can swallow even an inedible object. This may be a piece of cloth, sand, or any iron object. Such items help digest food.
These birds have very large eyes with eyelashes that prevent sand and dust from entering. Their body has an oval shape. Their plumage is very soft. Nestlings have a plumage of a darker shade, and eventually brighten. Their legs are also very large. This part of the body is simply the pride of the bird and can perform a protective function. Their limbs are long and strong. There are only 2 fingers on each leg. The greater length and strength of the legs allows the bird to hide from danger. If necessary, the ostrich is able to run very quickly - up to 70 km / h.
Their neck is also very long. This allows the bird to get the foliage from the trees and see the possible danger. Their wings are also quite powerful and well developed, but due to the enormous weight they cannot fly.
The ostrich uses its wings during the mating season to attract a pair. They perform a mating dance that looks like a grouse dance. One male may have several partners, but among them he will choose one, which will then help with the offspring.
The whole body of the bird is evenly covered with a soft feather. Feathers do not interlock with each other, which distinguishes the ostrich from other birds. Their chest muscles are not very developed. There is no keel in the chest. Therefore, their chest is not convex, but flat. The wingspan can reach up to 2 m. They cannot fly either because they have no clavicles and their muscles are too weak. But in general, the bones of the ostrich are strong. They have no goiter. Another difference from other birds is that their fecal masses and urine are separated separately.
This species belongs to the family of ostrich. Previously, there were 5 species of these birds. One of them is Syrian, it is considered to have disappeared since 1966. The rest are different colors. In addition to the common ostrich, there are species such as the southern, Masai, and Somali.
The habitat of these birds is on the African continent. They live both south and north of the equator. Often these birds can live alongside other representatives of the African fauna. Their neighbors are antelopes or zebras. These animals treat the bird peacefully, and may even give way to a good place where you can find more food.
Due to good hearing and vision, as well as high altitude, the enemy is quite difficult to get to the bird unexpectedly. Ostrich before other animals notice the threat. However, he immediately warns other animals that are nearby. He sees the predator in advance when he has not yet reached the potential victims for even a few kilometers. As soon as the ostrich sees danger, he immediately screams, then runs away.
As already mentioned, they can not fly. They simply can not do it because of the peculiarities of the structure of their body, as well as a large mass. But they run even faster than a horse. Chicks that were born just a month ago can already run at a speed of about 50 km / h. But not only this distinguishes them from other birds. Ostriches also differ from them in that there are only 2 toes on their legs. One of the horny fingers. This feature makes it convenient to walk and run. There is a big claw on the thumb, due to which the leg resembles a camel hoof. If we translate the name of this species into Russian, we will get the name "sparrow-camel".
Another distinctive feature of the species is the size of the eggs, which are the largest in weight and size compared to any other. By weight, it is comparable to 24 chicken eggs. If we take the ratio of the size of the egg and the bird itself, then it will be slightly less than, for example, in chickens.
Among the females that the male fertilizes, there is one dominant. She is engaged in incubation. And in this case the male is engaged in the arrangement of the nest. The rest of the females lay their eggs in this nest. The eggs of the dominant female are in the center. This is another privilege. She has been incubating all day. And at night it is replaced by the leader.
The process of incubation lasts a relatively long time - about 40 days. Every chick that has just appeared weighs at least 1 kg. But they grow pretty quickly. After 2 months they are covered with plumage. Ostusits quickly grow stronger, and soon they can run as fast as adults. Parents take care of them for a long time - it can last up to 2 years. After that, young ostriches leave the nest to create their family.
Ostriches never leave chicks. If several families live in the same locality, they may even try to take custody of others. Therefore, in Africa you can meet the family of ostriches, consisting of a huge number of chicks. There may even be about 300.
Hunting and breeding
At all times, these birds intensively exterminated. It continues in our days. The value for the hunter is bird plumage. They are used for interior design, various original costumes. Often the feather of this bird is an element of the outfit developed by the designer. In addition, they have thin and soft skin. However, it has considerable strength. Today, make her accessories, as well as clothing.
The value is also ostrich meat, which has excellent taste. It tastes even the most sophisticated gourmets. These eggs are also consumed as food. They are large, rich in nutrients.
These reasons force a person again and again to go hunting for an ostrich. Active extermination led to the fact that instead of 5 species of birds, only 4 remained. But today, many people increasingly think about nature. Therefore, widespread ostrich farms. Here birds are bred specifically to get valuable meat, feathers and eggs. This was a great idea for the original business. In addition, thanks to such farms, ostriches that live in nature, are less destroyed.
These ratites are able to live in a variety of conditions. Therefore, they are bred by enterprising businessmen, not only in Africa, but also in latitudes with a temperate climate. In addition, there are many zoos and reserves with ostriches. All this suggests that the disappearance of the birds are not threatened.
- They love to roll in the dust. This procedure protects them from parasites, as well as prevents waterlogging of the wings. Such a bath can take the whole herd at a time.
- Since they have very large powerful legs, ostriches use them for self-defense. With one successful blow of such a leg, a bird can kill even a lion.
- Their eyes are the largest, not only among all the birds, but among all the hired animals. Interestingly, their brain is smaller.
- When the leader sees that a predator is approaching the family, he immediately reports an imminent danger. At the same time, he makes a sound like a growling lion.
- With a shortage of fresh water, they may well drink and salt. But the best option is still fresh water.
- The eggshell is very durable. The inhabitants of African tribes used it as a dish for storing water. And when she came to the countries of Europe, she served as the basis for the manufacture of cups and other products.
- They are very caring parents, and protect the ostrich from predators. In case of danger, the adult pretends to be injured in order to take the predator as far as possible. And then she quickly runs away from him. At this time, other birds protect the chicks.
- They live in a big family. In order to protect themselves from the enemy, several individuals are alternately on duty at night.
- There is a widespread belief that they will bury their heads in the sand at danger. But it is not. They can just pretend to be dead. When they lie on the ground, the torso from a distance can be well viewed, and the bird’s head is not visible. Therefore, everything looks as if there are no heads on the surface.