This is a distinct species of large flightless birds native to Africa. Also known as the “Struthio Camalus” and world’s largest bird, it is the only living member of the genus Struthio, which is in the ratite family. These are found only in Kidepo valley National Park in north eastern Uganda. These huge flightless birds have got small heads, wings and huge legs with two pointing fingers. Africa has got only one species of ostrich which is further subdivided into two races, Nominate and Masaicus.
Both the male and female have got an average height of 2.5metres with males having brown eyes, white wings black body feathers, tail, pink neck and legs. A female ostrich is brown with pinkish-brown legs and the chicks have black heads, necks, stripped buff and they are considered mature at 3-4 years. Their wings grow up to 2metres and are used for mating, shade chicks, convert heat and help in changing direction while running.
Unlike other birds, the ostrich has got three stomachs and can excrete urine from dung. This bird has no teeth and this is the reason why it swallows pebbles to help them digest the food and an adult ostrich can carry up to 1 kg of stones. The male reproductive organ is only visible when the ostrich is passing out waste and females become fertile at six years.
Being the fastest birds, Ostriches are first runners unlike other birds; they move at 70km/hr. with 5metres per stride and also walk 4km/hr. They love dust bathing and at times are seen putting their heads in sand with the rest of the body outside. Male ostriches have vibrant calls that are sometimes mistaken to be lions roar and can be heard in over 1km distance.
The ostrich lays up to 15 eggs per month and they lay mainly in the dry seasons of February to June. Their eggs are the largest of all the other birds with a 15cm diameter and weigh as much as two dozens of eggs. The male ostrich prepares or digs the ground with a 1metre wide hole to cover its wide body and then pours there sand on which the eggs are laid. The sand is meant to provide extra warmth for the eggs to hatch. All the female ostriches lay their eggs in one hole/nest and these eggs are incubated by a dominant female during day time and by the female at night. The incubation takes 35-45 days and the male is responsible for teaching, defending and feeding the chicks. In the first 6 days these chicks don’t feed on anything but only the york in their body systems and after that begin with feeding on sand grains.
Any traveler on a Uganda tour should take time and visit these fascinating birds in Kidepo valley national park. Learn about their breeding tales, daily life and origin. But don’t forget to give your self-distance from their eggs as these birds can be so aggressive at that moment.