African ostrich is the biggest bird in the world and the only representative of the ostrich-like detachment, of the ostrich family, genus struthio. African ostrich belongs to the class of poultry and ratites subclass.
International African ostrich from 1758 is considered to be a Struthio camelus, Linnaeus.
The biological name of this bird in Greek it literally means “Sparrow-camel.”
This name originated because of its characteristic features: the ostrich has the same expressive as a camel’s eyes, with big eyelashes, as well as two-toed limbs and breast blister. But, compare the ostrich with the Sparrow, likely to become due to the existing underdeveloped wings.
The ostrich is a bird or animal? African ostrich is considered to be unique in nature a bird that can’t fly and has no keel. This bird has only two toes, which is also a kind of exception among other representatives, members of the class of birds.
Ostriches are the largest birds on our planet. The average height of the adult reaches 2.7 m, and the weight comes to 156 kg. However, the average weight of an ostrich, usually is around 50 kg. it Should also be noted that the males are much larger than females.
The skeleton of the ostrich is not considered to be pneumatic, with the exception only of the thigh. The end of the pubic bone has fused, forming a closed basin, which is also very unusual for other species of birds.
African ostriches differ in their stocky build, much elongated neck, small head, flattened shape, which ends are smooth, broad and flat beak. The beak has a soft outgrowth of Horny tissue. Individuals big eyes, and the upper lid are long and thick eyelashes.
As mentioned previously, the keel of these representatives of the class of birds is completely absent. The sternum of the African ostrich is underdeveloped. On the surface one can notice a bare area of thick skin, which is a breast blister. This corn plays the role of supports when the bird rests on the surface of the earth.
As the front limbs are underdeveloped wings, each of which has two fingers that end in sharp claws. Behind the bird a long, strong, muscular legs, which also has a two finger. One of them is a kind of hoof, which acts as a support while running.
The African ostrich is loose and curly tail. The feathers are distributed evenly throughout the body. On the head, neck and leg feathers are missing, instead, the skin in these areas covers soft and short fluff. Feathers birds have a primitive structure: the barbs almost interlock with each other and do not form webs.
The African ostrich feathers are very beautiful and a lot of them:
- 16 flight feathers of the first order;
- 20 primaries of the second order;
- 50-60 tail feathers.
Males from females to distinguish very simple. The plumage of the adult male black except for the tail and wings, which are painted in white color. Females are more nondescript. Their plumage is gray-brown hue, and the wings and tail look off-white.
What to eat?
Ostrich can be called omnivorous birds. Despite the fact that the diet of juveniles consists mainly of animal food, adult birds consumed more vegetation.
Their main diet consists of:
- Plant seeds;
However, adult ostriches do not refuse from various animals:
- Small rodents;
- Fell in the form of uneaten food predators.
The birds have nothing to chew their food, therefore to improve digestion they use sand, small stones and splinters, pieces of plastic, metal and even nails. It is worth noting, that individuals can few days and starve. Like camels, these individuals a long time can live without water. Animals will be enough liquid that they drink from the green mass of plants. When ostriches get water access, they are many and readily drink it. With great pleasure these birds love to bathe.
Where are the ostriches?
Where live ostriches, and that is their way of life? These birds live in Africa. Birds tend to avoid rainforest and prefer open grassy areas or semi-desert, located North and South of the Equatorial forests.
Animals tend to live, organizing a family group, consisting of Mature males, 4-5 females, and their offspring. Often the number one group up to 30 individuals. The young that live on the South of the area, living in groups of up to 100 birds.
Often African ostriches share the pastures with herds of antelopes or zebras, and animals and birds relate to each other peacefully. Together they travel to hot Savannah. Due to high growth and excellent eyesight, the birds are able to notice the approach of a predator and quickly run off. The length of one step is 4 m. the Speed of an ostrich reaches 70 km/h. These animals can sharply change its direction, without reducing speed. Young Chicks are not inferior in speed of running to their parents. At the age of one month they are capable of speeds up to 50 km/h.
During the Pleistocene and Pliocene on the planet, there were several varieties of these animals, which lived in the near East and Central Asia, India and southern regions of Eastern Europe. The lack of control extermination ostriches became the reason of sharp reduction of their population. Currently, the only type includes 4 subspecies that live only in Africa.
According to the surviving subspecies are the following:
- Common. This subspecies differs available bald. It is the largest subspecies, whose height reaches 2.7 m, and weight comes to 156 kg. Limbs and neck of the ostrich is painted in bright red color. The eggs of birds covered with thin rays of the pores that form a pattern resembling a star. When ordinary ostriches inhabited the territory from Ethiopia and Uganda to Algeria and Egypt. Currently this subspecies is only found in several African countries: Cameroon, Chad, Senegal and the Central African Republic;
- Maasai. This subspecies lives in Eastern Africa. During the breeding season the neck and limbs of the animal become bright red. In ordinary time, the plumage on these parts of the body has a pink tint;
- Somali. This subspecies is sometimes treated as a separate species. The males of this species have the same bald spot on his head, as ordinary individuals of the subspecies. Neck and limbs are different gray-blue color. The females have deep brown feathers. This species inhabits in southern Ethiopia, northeastern Kenya and Somalia. This species prefers to live singly or in pairs;
- South. This subspecies has greyish tinge to the plumage on the neck and limbs. Live birds in South-West Africa. Subspecies can be found in Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Botswana.
- Feathers of ostriches is often used to make fans, webs and decorations for the hats. The popularity of ostrich feathers is so great that every year from Africa exported about 370 tons of this raw material;
- In the mid-nineteenth century ostriches have started to use in farms, which played a significant role in maintaining populations of birds. Currently, more than 50 countries around the world are breeding ostriches, even in countries with a cooler climate, for example, Sweden. The main objectives of the breeding birds is the preservation of the population, obtaining an expensive skin, feathers and tasty meat, which is according to your taste very similar to beef;
- The feathers of ostriches, whose age is 2-3 years, not pull out, and neatly cut. This procedure is repeated 2 times a year;
- Previously, individuals were used as means of transportation, harnessed them to the sled. Also on birds rode;
- Running away from a predator, ostriches often do odd trick – the bird falls to the sand, stretching his neck. This creates the impression that the animal suddenly disappeared;
- Another unusual ability of the birds to swallow inedible objects. Often in the stomach of birds can be found a variety of things: coins, rags, keys, bullets, and bling;
- On the bird, you can ride a horse. These animals are able to easily carry on themselves an adult.