When you think of birds, you think of them soaring in the wind. But, not all birds can fly.
They are part of a group of flightless birds called ratites, which also includes rheas, emus, cassowaries, and kiwis. Their name means “raft” in Latin (ratis) because their breastbone is shaped like a flat raft.
Ratites, unlike most birds, don’t need to fly to survive, as they are able to defend themselves due to their size and incredible running ability. Ostriches can run up to speeds of 45 miles-per-hour.
Ratites also have a special feather called a “plume feather.” These feathers are unlike bird-of-flight feathers because they lack the microscopic barbs that hold the feather together. Plume feathers appear to be hair-like and breezy, which helps them to move through the wind when ratites are running fast.
Since ancient times, people have decorated themselves with ratite plumes and used ratite eggshells to create water bottles and dishes. The ancient Egyptians even trained ostriches to pull carts.
- The ostrich is native to Africa.
- It is the largest bird in the world.
- The largest bird, of course, lays the largest egg. One ostrich egg equals 12 farm eggs and weighs around three pounds.
- Ostriches weigh between 200-300 pounds.
- They stand from 6 to 7-feet-tall.
- It’s the only bird with two toes.
- The ostrich is the fastest bird on the ground reaching speeds up to 45 miles-per-hour.
- NBWR has two colors of male ostrich; red necks and blue necks.
- Females are brown and males are black.
- The ostrich has two sets of eyelids; up-and-down and side-to-side.
- Their brain is smaller then the size of their eyeball.
- When a male ostrich “gets down” and does his dance, its considered territorial behavior.
- When he blows up his neck and makes a deep blowing noise, he is calling for a mate.
- The bones of a ratite (ostrich family) are not hollow, like a bird of flight; they are heavier and stronger to support their great weight.
- Ostriches have tread on their feet to protect the foot as it runs.
- Ostriches often travel with herds of oryx, other antelopes and zebras. The tall ostrich keeps an eye out for trouble, while the other animals stir up insects, small reptiles, and rodents-which ostriches like to eat.
- An ostrich may run faster then a horse, but it can’t run as far. After about half an hour, an ostrich slows down.
- It is a myth that ostriches stick their head in the sand when in danger. When an ostrich is cornered and has no other defense, they will lay down on the ground. Their head/neck blend in with the sand.
- Ostriches like to live in groups; normally in groups of 10. Some ostrich herds have been known to have as many as 100.