Ostrich in exhibit
Scientific Name
Struthio camelus
Geographic Range
Sub-Saharan Africa except the forests of the Congo River Basin
Plants, roots, and seeds (insects, lizards, and other prey)

Found in:

Ostrich in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern

More Information

Ostriches have a flexible neck and two toes on each foot, a trait that no other bird has. Their head and neck look bare, while the rest of their plumage consists of shaggy, flexible feathers. Males have black plumage with white-tipped tails and wings; females are gray-brown.

These birds live alone, in pairs, or in small groups. A breeding group consists of a dominant male and several females. The first female to lay eggs in the nest the male makes is the major hen, and the other female ostriches lay eggs in the same nest. These eggs contain the largest cells in nature. The male and the major hen incubate the eggs, and they hatch after about six weeks. All the adults tend to the checks.

Ostriches were long hunted by humans for feathers and meat and have also experienced habitat loss. Most live in preserves or game parks now, so they are not considered threatened.

Did You Know?

  • Ostriches are the largest living birds, with males reaching 9 feet tall and 350 pounds.
  • They can run at a sustained speed of 30 miles per hour. They can also sprint 45 miles per hour when threatened.
  • Males build nests by digging with their bill. This may be why some people think ostriches bury their heads when they’re in danger.
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