Common Ostrich – Struthio camelus
With a surname like Strauss (Ostrich in German), this is probably the first bird that I knew by name. I grew up with all sorts of nicknames related to Strauss (strysie, Straussie) and thus, began to dislike the fact that my surname actually has meaning and of course, it has to be one of the most precarious birds as well! Ostriches are not my favorite birds.
To many people, ostriches at one time or another, meant gold. In Oudtshoorn, South Africa, there were two ostrich booms as the fashion in Europe at the time (1875 – 1880 & 1903 – 1913) required ostrich feathers – especially for hats. In Namibia, ostriches farming also boomed at Mariental which has a very similar landscape to Oudtshoorn. To me, ostriches has always been a symbol of dust and desert. These birds, it seems to me, can live where no other creature can live.
Not very surprisingly, ostriches are the largest and heaviest birds alive. (They weigh up to 70 kg and can be up to 2m tall). The males are slightly more attractive in their black and white feathers than their grey female counterparts. With this drab arrangement of colours, they blend in pretty well with their chosen habitats of open arid savanna woodland, shrublands and desert plains.
And I think the main reason why they can survive in dire situations, are their choice of food. Ostriches will eat just about any plant material available.
Ostriches are (suprise, surprise!) polygamous. The nest (or what they call a nest) is built by the female. The males incubate the nest at night, while the females make turns during the day.
And now that you have studied this photo – some people make a sport out of riding these birds…. Yup….
How does one sit on them? I’d be way too scared of those legs….. A 70kg bird must be able to pack in quite a punch!
And here is what the hats used to look like… would you wear one?
And today they are used for:
Yup, dusters…. dusters and decor…
Right, there is your lesson in ostrich feathers!