Today we’re going to learn about the ostrich, the world’s largest bird. Just because it’s large and flightless, doesn’t mean you should strap a saddle on it and ride it. Case in point.
Look at me, all Hal Linden today, hosting my own Animals, Animals, Animals episode. Woot! Barney Miller up in here, bringing the facts! Okay, calm down, Kerbey. Too much dark roast.
According to www.onekind.org, ostriches are the fastest runners of any birds or other two-legged animal and can sprint at over 70 km/hr, covering up to 5m in a single stride. I don’t know what that is because I live in America, where a meter is something you put coins in to park your car while you go the chiropractor’s office. Actually, 5m is a little over 16 feet. So, basically Shaq times two, give or take an inch. But anyway, that’s super fast, right? Take that, Kenya!
This almost makes sense now.
If you read the writing a the bottom of this postcard, you can see it says “trained ostrich.” Trained? That seems a heady task, considering an ostrich’s brain is smaller than its eye and would hardly fill a teaspoon. Good luck with that.
Per www.southafrica.net, the Roman Emperor Heliogabalus once had the brains of 600 ostriches served up at a feast during his reign 2,000 years ago. Nasty. Although, you know it was free-range and antibiotic free, so props to Heliogabalus. Hey, Dave this sounds like one for The Blog of Funny Names…
Now, listen, around here (since it’s spring), the birds have been chirping up a storm, building nests in my roof and chimney and even the exhaust where our dryer air shoots out. And they are chirping like NOBODY’S BUSINESS, aggressively. Like I could not take a nap to save my life because they are all CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP!!! CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?? Who knew birds were such attention whores? But this is nothing compared to the male ostrich in mating season. He can roar like a lion.
But don’t go near one. If he has red shins, he’s at his most aggressive. Make your own joke up there. And the mating dance is something to behold. This guy starts out with jazzhands/jazzfeathers and then drops down and begins writhing about endlessly.
One swift forward kick can kill a lion. They are Lethal Rockettes, if you will. And in territorial fights between males, they can cause death by slamming their heads into opponents. This is so fight club.
More fun facts from onekind (and their odd British way of spelling) reveal that dinner and dancing precede the brown chicken, brown cow:
- Ostriches perform a complex mating ritual consisting of the cock alternating wing beats until he attracts a mate, when they will go to the mating area and he will drive away all intruders. They graze until their behaviour is synchronized, then…the cock will excitedly flap alternate wings again, and start poking on the ground with his bill and violently flap his wings to symbolically clear out a nest in the dirt. Then, while the hen runs circle around him with lowered wings, he will wind his head in a spiral motion. She will drop to the ground and he will mount for copulation.
If mating is successful, then co-parenting is in order:
- The eggs are incubated by the dominant female by day and by the male by night, using the colouration of the two sexes to escape detection of the nest, as the drab female blends in with the sand, while the black male is nearly undetectable in the dark.
Pretty smart for a stupid bird. In fact, an ostrich could be far more valuable than you thought. Although its eggs are good eats (I’ve had one!), every adult ostrich has around a kilogram or more of stones in its crop. Sometimes these stones have been found to be diamonds.!! Yeah, huh, it’s true. The aptly-named www.fascinatingearth.com says so:
About a century ago a hunter shot a wild ostrich. In preparing it for the evening meal, he cut open the gizzard and found several pure gem—quality diamonds among the stony contents. He set out early the next morning to hunt diamond—bearing ostriches…Within a week…prospectors killed the defenseless birds by the thousands. Not all the victims contained diamonds, but some were fantastically rich; in one bird’s gizzard 63 diamonds were found.