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What is it?

ostrich claws.jpg

The ostrich is the largest bird on earth. A bird usually isn't what you think of when you see an ostrich. The ostrich cannot fly. Instead, they possess other physical attributes to make up for being flightless.


Genders of ostriches are easier to identify than most bird species. Males usually have jet-black feathers and bold white wingtips, while females have grey feathers with less pronounced white wingtips. Ostrich males can grow up to 9 feet tall, and females can grow 6 or 7 feet tall. 

Their long necks allow them to look over tall grass and see predators, like cheetahs or lions, from a distance. Their large eyes, larger than their brains, give them the remarkable vision to spot danger. 


The ostrich's large size and small wings leave it unable to fly. So instead, the bird relies on speed and agility. At full speed, they can run at 45 miles per hour. They are faster than any Olympic sprinter could be. Even when an ostrich is tired, they can jog at 30 miles per hour for up to an hour. But what helps give them their speed?

Long, powerful, muscular legs push them forward with incredible force. Another large and flightless bird, such as the emu, has three toes and can run 30 miles per hour. On the other hand, ostriches have only two toes which give them greater speed. 

When humans run at full speed, the bottom of their feet hit the ground with about 900 pounds of force. The bottom of the ostrich's feet strikes the ground with over 1,700 pounds of force. The ostrich holds the awesome title as the fastest animal on two legs. If they are evading predators, they can use their wings to make quick and sharp turns by stretching out the right or left wing in the direction they want to turn. 


The diet of the ostrich includes seeds, grass, fallen fruit from trees, and insects. However, food may be scarce in certain areas and seasons. This means that they cannot afford to be picky eaters.

Danger to humans

Ostriches can be dangerous to humans if they are provoked. Powerful legs can deliver a violent kick that can injure or even kill an enemy. Their feet hold a long sharp claw that can slash a human easily or even a lion. It wouldn't be a good idea to chase an ostrich. You won't catch him, and he may turn and fight with his feet.


Ostriches can lay up to 20 eggs.  They make their nests on the ground. The eggs must be kept warm to hatch. So ostrich parents will sit on the eggs to keep them warm. The heat from the dirt also helps incubate the eggs even if the parent isn't sitting on them at the moment. Since their nests are on the ground, other animals may trample on them. Monitor lizards or baboons may try to steal an egg if given a chance. These dangers are why ostrich parents are fiercely protective of their unborn chicks. When they are born, the chicks must stay close to their mother and father. Lions and cheetahs can be quick to snatch young ostriches that stray too far from safety. When adult ostriches look for food, the chicks imitate how their parents peck the ground to pick up seeds and pluck grass. This is similar to how chickens teach their young to find food.

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