Appearance The Ostrich is a massive bird, 9ft (2.7m); taller than a man and males can weigh over 320lbs (145kg). There are two subspecies residing in Kenya: The Common (Masai) Ostrich (Struthio camelus massaicus), with all pink face, neck and legs. The Somali Ostrich (Struthio [camelus] molybdophanes), with blue fur on their neck and legs and often regarded as a seperate species. Ostrich have the biggest eyes of any animal in the world, 2" (50mm) in diameter, topped with elaborately long eyelashes.
Habits The Ostrich is usually found as a group of one male and three females, although groups of up to 50 birds are not uncommon. All three females lay eggs weighing over 2lbs (1kg) into the same nest, scraped from the ground. A total of up to 24 eggs may be laid. The male incubates by night and the female/s by day. On hatching, the chicken-sized chick is immediately able to run. Ostrich live up to 45 years in the wild and 70, in captivity. The Ostrich is the largest bird in the world, but is flightless. However, it is the fastest running bird in the world and can sprint at speeds of 43mph (70kph), sustain a speed of 30mph (50kph), each stride carrying it up to 16ft (5m). Its feet have just 2 toes (birds commonly have three or four), the largest of which has a fearsome claw. When the Ostrich kicks out and downwards at predators, it is this claw that inflict terrible damage. The Ostrich has short wings, which are opened wide, making this huge bird appear even bigger. It aggressively charges predators in this manner, particularly when protecting its young. The wings are also used in dancing displays, to fan itself and its young, provide shade for its chicks and when dust bathing. The wings are also used to cover their bare, featherless thighs, protecting from sun, or covering at night to conserve warmth.
Diet The Ostrich eats a variety of vegetable matter & large insects. They often follow herbivores, to mutual advantage. The herbivores disturb insects and the Ostrich keeps lookout, being able to see above tall grasses for over 2 miles.
Resident The Common Ostrich is found from central Kenya, southwards, while the Somali Ostrich is found from central Kenya, northwards.
Extra Ostrich Facts The male Ostrich has an 8" (20cm) phalloid organ, which resides in its vent; very rare in birds. During the breeding season, the skin of the male becomes very much brighter and even more so, during copulation.
Photographs Common Ostrich photographed in Kenya's Nairobi National Park and Masai Mara. Somali Ostrich photographed in Meru National Park.