The Life of Animals | Ostrich | The Ostrich is one or two species of large flightless birds native to Africa, the only living member(s) of the genus Struthio. Some analyses indicate that the Somali Ostrich may be better considered a full species apart from the Common Ostrich, but most taxonomists consider it to be a subspecies. Ostriches share the order Struthioniformes with the kiwis, emus, and other ratites. It is distinctive in its appearance, with a long neck and legs and the ability to run at maximum speeds of about 97.5 kilometres per hour (60.6 mph), the top land speed of any bird The Ostrich is the largest living species of bird and lays the largest egg of any living bird (extinct elephant birds of Madagascar and the giant moa of New Zealand did lay larger eggs).

The diet of Ostriches mainly consists of plant matter, though it also eats invertebrates. When threatened, the Ostrich will either hide itself by lying flat against the ground, or will run away. Mating patterns differ by geographical region, but territorial males fight for a harem of two to seven females. The Ostrich is farmed around the world, particularly for its feathers, which are decorative and are also used as feather dusters. 

Ostriches usually weigh from 63 to 130 kilograms (140–290 lb)  with exceptional male Ostriches weighing up to 156.8 kilograms (346 lb) The feathers of adult males are mostly black, with white primaries and a white tail. Females and young males are greyish-brown and white. The head and neck of both male and female Ostriches is nearly bare, with a thin layer of down. The skin of the females neck and thighs is pinkish gray while the male's is blue-gray, gray or pink dependent on subspecies.

The strong legs of the Ostrich are unfeathered and show bare skin, with the tarsus (the lowest upright part of the leg) being covered in scales – red in the male, black in the female The bird has just two toes on each foot (most birds have four), with the nail on the larger, inner toe resembling a hoof. The feathers lack the tiny hooks that lock together the smooth external feathers of flying birds, and so are soft and fluffy and serve as insulation. Unlike all other living birds, the Ostrich secretes urine separately from faeces. At sexual maturity (two to four years), male Ostriches can be from 1.8 to 2.8 metres (5 ft 11 in to 9 ft 2 in) in height while female Ostriches range from 1.7 to 2 metres (5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 7 in). At one year of age, Ostriches weigh around 45 kilograms (100 lb). A female ostrich can determine her own eggs amongst others in a communal nest.

The earliest fossil of Ostrich-like birds is the Palaeotis living near the Asiatic steppes  from the Middle Eocene, a middle-sized flightless bird that was originally believed to be a bustard. While the relationship of the African species is comparatively straightforward, a large number of Asian species of Ostrich have been described from fragmentary remains, and their interrelationships and how they relate to the African Ostriches is confusing. Ostriches formerly occupied Africa north and south of the Sahara, East Africa, Africa south of the rain forest belt, and much of Asia Minor Today Ostriches prefer open land and are native to the savannas and Sahel of Africa, both north and south of the equatorial forest zone. Ostriches become sexually mature when they are 2 to 4 years old; females mature about six months earlier than males. The mating process differs in different geographical regions. The cock performs with his wings, alternating wing beats, until he attracts a mate.

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