Eats mostly grass, flowers, and other plants. At times, it also eats grasshoppers.
The ostrich is the world’s largest bird. It is also the fastest of all animals which walk on two feet. The ostrich can reach a speed of 60 kilometers per hour! Ostrich eggs are the largest eggs in nature and is roughly the size of 24 chicken eggs. Since it has a very hard shell, the eggs serve the natives of Africa as food and as water basins. Ostrich feathers are particularly precious because of their size. In Africa, as well as in other places, ostrich races have been facilitated.
The ostrich can reach the age of 40 years in the wild and 50 years in captivity. The males are black and white, while the females are gray - brown. During courting season, the male’s neck becomes red, and his behavior becomes aggressive. The female can lay up to 100 eggs in one season, and the male is the one who incubates the laid eggs on the ground with no nest.
Until the beginning of the 20th Century, the ostrich was common in the Negev region of Israel. The sub-species which lived in Israel was exclusive to the Middle East region, however it later became extinct in the wild in our region. This was caused by hunting, especially of the eggs, which prevented expansion of the population, and because of use of the feathers. Thus, this Syrian sub-species became extinct. In 1973, a breeding group was formed at the Yotvata Hai Bar, consisting of individuals which were brought from Ethiopia and Eastern Africa. This sub-species is the closest to that which previously existed in Israel. They can be seen today at the Hai Bar Reserve. The ostrich is still an endangered species, because of hunting and use of its eggs, however in many locations in Africa today, ostriches are raised on farms, mainly for feather use as well as for their flesh. These farms provide employment for local people and help reduce hunting of the ostrich in the wild. This impacts ostrich conservation from extinction. In other places in the world, ostrich farms are becoming more common.
Despite the myth, the ostrich does not burry its head in the sand.
The ostrich became extinct from Israel’s wilderness but was returned to the Negev region.
Photo: Tamar Raviv