Ostrich, or the “Big Bird”

Ostrich (Struthio camelus)

Are these big birds or what? Not something you will see replacing the proverbial Turkey on the Thanks Giving or Christmas table… no way too heavy for Mamma to carry. 63 to 145 kilograms (140–320 lb.) might just be what could be called “a meal too far”, or one will have to have on huge family…

There is one odd, or not so odd thing about the Ostrich, it’s mating dance.

2006_0729incomming0032

Like all birds, or nearly all birds, the male must attract the female, but in the Ostrich world this lad is not a light weight, he goes after two to seven females… His booming call and fighting prowess will ensure he gathers a harem, none of which insist he puts the toilet seat down. He will then perform his dance and she will show her willingness and the deed will be done. He only bonds with the most senior female, who lays her eggs first followed by the others, and when the time is right, she will sit on the eggs (up to 20 odd) during the day, and at night the male will do the duty.

The sad thing is that only about 50% of the eggs will hatch, sometimes far more, but of those, only about 15% will make it through the first year…. however they are the longest-living bird species. Now for the actual mating dance …..

The cock performs with his wings, alternating wing beats, until he attracts a mate. They go to the mating area and he will ensure privacy by driving away all intruders. They graze until their behaviour is synchronized, then then the process takes on a ritualistic appearance. The cock will excitedly flap alternate wings again, and start poking the ground with his bill. He will violently flap his wings to symbolically clear out a nest in the soil, while the hen runs a circle around him with lowered wings, he winds his head in a spiral motion. She drops to the ground and he will mount for “Bing bang boom”.

Now hers a few photos that I hope clear up any misunderstanding …

084

085

086

087

088

089

098

100

AND THEN SHE SHOWS HER WILLINGNESS TO BREED….

081