The Masai Ostrich (Struthio camelus massaicus) is also called the Pink-Necked Ostrich or the East African Ostrich. It is a ratite, related to emus, rheas, cassowaries, and kiwi.
The Masai Ostrich is the largest bird in the world, growing to 2-3 metres (7-9 feet) tall. Their wingspan is about 2 metres (6.5 feet).
It is a large, flightless black bird with white tail feathers, a featherless pink neck and pink thighs. The skin of the female’s neck and thighs is pinkish grey. The male’s neck and thighs are pink, and become brighter in mating season. Females and young males are greyish-brown and white.
They have the largest eyes of any land vertebrate. Their legs have no feathers. The Masai Ostrich has two toes on each foot, whereas most birds have four toes and emus have three toes.
The Masai Ostrich cannot fly because its feathers lack the tiny hooks that lock together to make external feathers smooth for flying. The long legs and large wings make them about to zigzag when they run.
The Masai Ostrich is a grazer, feedings on grass.
It lives in nomadic herds of up to 50 birds. It is found in southern Kenya, eastern Tanzania, Ethiopia, and southern Somalia.
Female Masai Ostriches lay one cream-coloured large egg in a communal nest shared with other female ostriches. The ostrich egg is the largest egg in the world, at about 15 centimetres (6 inches) long. The egg takes about 35-45 days to hatch.
Their lifespan is up to 40–45 years.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM