|Photo by Stig Nygaard (Wikipedia)|
ostrich (en); avestruz (pt); autruche d'Afrique (fr); avestruz (es); Afrikanische strauß (de)
This species is presently restricted to Africa, occurring in two separate areas. One area spans from Mauritania and Mali to Sudan and south along East Africa to Tanzania. The other area encompasses Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and northern South Africa. The population in the Middle East went extinct in the 1960s.
The ostrich is the largest living bird species. The males are larger than females, being 2,1-2,8 m long and weighing 100-160 kg. The females are 1,7-2 m long and weigh 65-110 kg.
These birds are mostly found in dry grasslands and savannas, and also in dry scrublands and pastures. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m.
They feed on grasses, seeds, flowers and fruits of succulent plants, and also roots and some insects such as locusts.
Ostriches breed in March-September. They can be either monogamous or polygamous with one male defending a flock of 2-7 females. The nest is a simple pit, scraped on the ground by the male. The dominant female lays up to 12 eggs and the other females can each lay another 2-6 eggs, all in the same nest, with cases being known of up to 60 eggs in a single nest. the eggs are incubated only be the male and the dominant female, for 35-46 days. The chicks leave the nest within 3 days of hatching and often join a large crèche with chicks from other broods, which is defended by several adults. They fledge 4-5 months after hatching and reach sexual maturity at 2-4 years of age.
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be frequent to abundant throughout most of this range. The population is decreasing and the ostrich species has previously suffered owing to the plume trade and hunting, but is now mostly affected by habitat loss.