Somali Ostrich

The Somali Ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes) is a large bird in the Struthionidae family of ratites. It is also called the Blue-Necked Ostrich. It is a ratite, related to emus, rheas, cassowaries, kiwi, and the Masai Ostrich.

The male Somali Ostrich is a flightless black bird with white tail feathers, a featherless blue-grey neck and featherless grey thighs. The skin of the female’s neck and thighs is grey. The male’s neck and thighs become brighter in mating season. The female and young males have brown feathers. It has the largest eyes of any land vertebrate. The Somali Ostrich has two toes on each foot, whereas most birds have four toes and emus have three toes.

It cannot fly because its feathers lack the tiny hooks that lock together to make external feathers smooth for flying. Its long legs and large wings enable it to zigzag when it runs.

Somali Ostrich

Male Somali Ostrich

The Ostrich is the largest bird in the world, growing to 2-3 metres (7-9 feet) tall. Its wingspan is about 200 centimetres (6.5 feet).

It is native to the Horn of Africa and Somalia.

The Somali Ostrich is a browser, feeding on plants and trees.

Somali Ostrich

Male and Female Somali Ostriches feeding on trees

It lives in nomadic herds of up to 50 birds.

The female Somali Ostrich lays 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) in length. The egg takes about 35-45 days to hatch.

Its lifespan is up to 40–45 years.

Somali Ostrich

Female Somali Ostriches

Somali Ostrich

Male and Female Somali Ostrich


Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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