Ostriches are the world’s largest bird; they can grow up to 9 feet tall and can weigh up to 320 lbs. Ostriches are flightless birds which means that like penguins they can’t fly, but unlike penguins, they don’t swim, they run. In fact the ostrich can run up to 40 mph.
Male ostriches are the ones with the bold black and white feathers, while the females have light browns feathers. Ostriches are omnivores, which means they eat both vegetation and meat. Although they prefer plants, especially roots, seeds and leaves, they also eat locusts, lizards, snakes and rodents.
Grown ostriches are huge and so are their chicks. Like any other bird they hatch from eggs, which as you can see below is not in the same size range of other birds. In fact, ostriches lay the largest eggs in the world.
Ostrich eggs are 6 inches in diameter and can weigh up to 3 lbs. Eggs are laid in a communal nest called a dump nest, which can hold about 60 eggs at one time. Males, as well as females, sit on the eggs until they hatch, which can take 42 to 46 days.
Ostrich chicks are larger than any other bird baby. When they hatch, the chicks can be as big as chickens. The males and females share the responsibility of taking care of the young. During an attack, the male tries to lure the predator away from the chicks while they run for cover with the female.
By six months, a chick is almost at its full-grown height; at 3 or 4 years, it will reach maturity. An ostrich can live 50 to 75 years.
Genus & species: Struthio camelus
Subspecies: Struthio camelus camelus (red-necked or North African ostrich), Struthio camelus molybdo phones (Somali ostrich), Struthio camelus massaicus (Masai ostrich), Struthio camelus australis (South African or Southern ostrich)
Contrary to popular belief, ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand, but they do lie down with their heads against the ground when they feel threatened. It only looks like the ostrich has buried its head because its head and neck blend in with the color of the sand.
Ostriches fight with their feet. They kick forward because that’s the direction in which their legs bend, according to the American Ostrich Association. A solid kick can kill a lion.
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