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.


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 …












57 thoughts on “Ostrich, or the “Big Bird”

  1. Stunning! I love the very first photo of the ostrich’s face! I am amazed at how much I have learned from you from each commentary. Have you ever thought of publishing your excellent photos in a book? You have such gift!

    • Thanks LuAnn… such comments make me feel good… funny how one sort of thinks everyone knows about all the animals and birds, and I forget how many years it took me to learn about them…

    • I love the way they actually seem to totally ignore all his efforts… and when they don’t show there willingness, he huffs and puffs like an old (nearly said woman, better change that) man…

  2. I’m telling Linda that you told Vanessa that you’re going to practice your dancing and go to clubs…naughty Bulldog…..
    Fascinating story of the mating ritual and the low percentage of actual births. I would NOT want to be on the receiving end of
    one of those kicks….it would be “lights out” for me!

    • Suzanne.. Linda says go for it… with my bald head and fat gut.. I’d be lucky to get allowed in firstly… and then she recons I have no hope in any case.. and if I found some young dolly I wouldn’t know what to do with her… she is full of confidence I’m stuck with her…
      I have received a kick from one of these big birds.. I was involved with a company breeding these big birds… I was moving a young male from one camp to the other with my hat over it’s head which makes them quite manageable… but like a FOOL I peeped under the hat to see if it could see… guess what it could and gave my leg a good glancing kick that made me let go of my hat… it took off with my hat balanced on its head leaving me rolling on the ground in pain… took me nearly an hour to get my hat back… used a bank bag over their heads after that….

  3. Absolutely stunning shots as usual bulldog. I do so love their eyes and you’ve captured the courtship so beautifully! Thanks for sharing. Love it! 😀 *hugs*

    • Thanks Sonel… almost drove past the ritual.. slammed on brakes and took the photos… a little blurred but the idea of what they do was what I wanted… also a little out of season for them, but then who says we know what nature decides…

  4. hahahaha!!! 🙂 🙂
    What a riotously great photo of the Ostrich’s face! Was that taken before or after the breeding ritual!? hahahahahahaha!
    Not sure why, but that FACE is cracking me up! 🙂
    Have a great weekend Bulldog!

    • Thank you… actually I got too close to this guy standing next to a fence I thought I was fairly safe… ok lets put it this way I was safe from being kicked, as they kick forward.. but this guy actually took my sunglasses off the top of my head where I place them when taking photos… needless to say I never got them back, when he realised they could not be swallowed, (they eat anything) he dropped them and before I could rescue them he decided to put all 100+ kilos weight on top of them… sun glasses are not made for that type treatment… oh well I got the shot, damned expensive one, but still….

  5. This was absolutely wonderful. So many giggles, too!! God’s world is just an incredible thing to watch. You are blessed to be in such a place, for sure!!! I am blessed to know you so i can view it through your eyes!! Thank you, Dear Friend!! (still giggling)

    • Yes I must admit I have been blessed all my life to have grown up in the wilds and worked most of my life there as well… and of course now to be able to view these friends any time I want… I am truly blessed…. and He has given me the knowledge to have learnt and know so much about my subjects… truly blessed…

    • Thank you I should have said in the explanation, that the 20 odd eggs are all his harems put together… he breeds with them all (that he can get together) and then just the main female and him look after the nest and raising the young, which believe it or not he does the most of… he gets very aggressive with Jackal etc when the young are walking around with him… and one kick can break the back of a predator… if it doesn’t rip it apart…

    • Thanks TBM.. it is quite a ritual to watch… specially when he gets rejected ’cause she’s not ready… he snorts around like a man with a hangover….

  6. haha – Bulldog you crack me up – well your photos often do. That first one I just burst out laughing. Brilliant and as always not only do we get to share your gorgeous wildlife through your wonderful photos but we get a lesson at the same time. Thanks!

    • This is a pleasure for me I can assure you… I might not have the wonderful coast line you have but I do have the wild life… but then we have the “Springboks” and you’ve only got the All Blacks… I’m going to look a fool if your team gives us a hiding this season… LOL

  7. I always learn something new when I come here (apart from greatly enjoying your wonderful photographs) today is no exception, thank you Bulldog. So very interesting to know. I wonder if men were birds in the evolutionary process before they became human males, just saying!!!

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