The Somali Ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes) is also called the Blue-Necked Ostrich. It is a ratite, related to emus, rheas, cassowaries, kiwi, and the Masai Ostrich. It is native to the Horn of Africa and Somalia.
It is a large, flightless black bird with white tail feathers, a featherless blue-grey neck and grey thighs. The skin of the female’s neck and thighs is grey. The male’s neck and thighs are blue-grey, and become brighter in mating season. Females and young males are brown.
The Ostrich is the largest bird in the world, growing to 2-3 metres (7-9 feet) tall. The wingspan is about 2 metres (6.5 feet).
They have the largest eyes of any land vertebrate. Their legs have no feathers. 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. The long legs and large wings make them about to zigzag when they run.
The Somali Ostrich is a browser, feeding on plants and trees.
It lives in nomadic herds of up to 50 birds.
Female Somali 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