Spotting a wild ostrich on the plains of East Africa is a treat. Getting up close to one is nearly impossible. A large, flightless bird weighing over 200 pounds, they are much faster than one would expect, and often disappear instantly.
Clocked at 43 miles per hour, the ostrich’s speed is unrivaled by many predators who resort to cunning tactics like trapping them instead. Their long list of foreboding African predators include lions, leopards, wild dogs, and hyenas to name a few. The cheetah, the fastest animal in the world, is their most successful predator. Ostrich eggs are the largest of all eggs, at 5.9 inches long, and are preyed on by jackals, vultures, mongoose and warthogs.
Struthio camelus eat a lot of grass, trees, and shrubs along with some insects like locusts. When you come across one it often has its head close to the ground, grazing. With their acute hearing and eyesight, and great speed, they disappear quickly and all you are left with is a distant image of this big beautiful bird distorted in a heat wave.
In addition to defenses such as speed, height (9 feet tall!), hearing and eyesight, ostrich also have a powerful kick. They kick forward and can cause serious injury and death with their blow. They also use camouflage as a defense. When in danger they will lay low on the ground, camouflaging as a mound of earth. Contrary to a popular myth, ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand. Puleeze, they are smarter than that. For more information about the ostrich, click here.
A bird that doesn’t fly, weighs over 200 pounds, and has lions, cheetahs, and hyenas chasing after it — now that’s a super hero.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander