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Ostrich

About Ostrich

This bird has a long neck, powerful legs soft plumage, bare skin on head, neck, and thighs. Male is black with white wing primaries; the tail varies from whitish to gray or cinnamon brown; skin on its head and neck, pink or blue flushing bright red during courtship; brown eyes with large eyelashes. Female is pale brown with pinkish neck and head; wing tips sometimes can be white.

This bird breeds at different times and it varies with latitude. The male makes a number of unlined scrapes on the ground. The female selects one and lays up to 12 yellowish-white eggs, then several other females lay more eggs in the same scrape. The nest can contain up to 40 eggs; they are incubated by the male at night, and by the dominant female by day, for about 42 days. This arrangement where the dominant females help to take care of the eggs is almost unigue. Maybe her own eggs benefit from being part of a larger group. There are so many eggs she will kick out those eggs who are not hers. Exactly how she tells which eggs are her own is not clear. The ostrich egg is the largest of any bird on earth, measuring up to 8 inches (20cm) long.

The biggest and heaviest of all living birds, the ostrich is widely distributed throughout the drier parts of Africa.

It is ideally adapted for life on arid grasslands, where its long legs allow it to gather food from wide ranges. It can lose up to a quarter of its body weight through dehydration, which gives it a big advantage in desert regions where sources of water are few and far between. The ostrich cannot fly, but makes up for this with its powerful legs that allow it to out run most of its enemies. Ostriches can reach running speeds of up to 45 mph (70km/h). It also can walk forever without getting tired.

Ostriches will form flocks of 10-50 birds and search for food. The large males will defend their territories with a loud, deep call that resembles the roars of lions, and it will inflate the red-flushed skin of their necks in display.