Red-Necked Ostrich

The Red-Necked Ostrich (Struthio camelus camelus) is a large flightless bird in the Struthionidae family of ratites. It is also known as the North African Ostrich or the Barbary Ostrich. It is a sub-species of the Common Ostrich. It is related to the emu, rhea, cassowary, and kiwi. 

The male Red-Necked Ostrich is black with white tail feathers, a featherless red neck, and red thighs. The female and young male have grey feathers. It has the largest eyes of any land vertebrate. Its legs have no feathers. The Red-Necked 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 makes it able to zigzag when it runs. 

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Big bird feathers: Emu, Cassowary, Ostrich, and Rhea

What are the similarities and differences between big bird feathers – the feathers of the largest birds on earth?

The Emu, the Cassowary, the Ostrich, and the Rhea are large flightless ratite birds. The Emu is from Australia, the Cassowary is from northern Australia and New Guinea, the Ostrich is from countries in Africa, and the Rhea is from countries in South America.

Their wings have no keel (anchor) on their sternum (a long flat breastbone) to connect to their wing muscles, which means that the birds can’t fly. Therefore, their feathers are mainly decorative. 

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Rhea Eggs

The Greater Rhea has large eggs, but they are not as large as ostrich eggs.

When a female Rhea lays an egg, it is greenish-yellow at first, and quickly changes to dull creamy-white.

A Rhea egg measures about 13 centimetres (5 inches) long and 9 centimetres (3.5 inches) high, which is half the size of an ostrich egg, and almost twice the size of a chicken egg.

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RESEARCH: Why do ostriches have two legs but four knees

Why do ostriches, the largest living bird species, with the largest eggs of any bird, have two legs but four knees? Specifically, ostriches have four kneecaps, and therefore four knees. Emus and cassowaries have no kneecaps.

Sophie Regnault, and her research colleagues at the Royal Veterinary College in London, examined a dead ostrich donated to the college.

They bent and straightened the ostrich’s knees, and used an imaging technique called biplanar fluoroscopy to track how the bones moved. Then they built a simple model to understand how the kneecaps affected the leverage of the muscles controlling the knee.

Kneecaps help animals to flex the extensor muscles in their knees, so that they don’t need to exert force to straighten their knees.

However, ostriches have an upper kneecap and a lower kneecap on each leg that act differently from the kneecaps of other animals.

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Fallacy: Ostriches bury their heads in the sand

Ostriches bury their heads in the sand. This is not true. It is a fallacy.

When ostriches are alarmed, they do not bury their heads in the sand, but they lie low and press their long necks down on the ground. This is because they are trying to hide from their predators, or to be less visible and not so prominent (large).

From a distance, it might look as if they have buried their heads in the sand, but they haven’t.

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What’s the difference between Ostriches: Masai Ostrich and Somali Ostrich

The Masai Ostrich (Struthio camelus massaicus) is also called the Pink-Necked Ostrich or the East African Ostrich.

The Somali Ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes) is also called the Blue-Necked Ostrich.

The male Masai Ostrich has a featheless pink neck, pink thighs, and pink legs.

The male Somali Ostrich has a featherless blue neck, grey thighs, and grey legs.

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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.

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Masai Ostrich

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.

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Ostrich Wing: why the ostrich can’t fly

The Ostrich (Struthio camelus) is a large African flightless bird.

Its wings are also large, with a wingspan of about two metres (6 feet and 7 inches).

Ostriches have many differences from flying birds.

Flying birds have external feathers with hooks that lock together. The Ostrich external feathers do not have tiny hooks that lock together. These hooklets are called barbules. They zip the vanes of individual feathers together to make the feather strong enough to hold the airfoil (the shape of the wing that makes it aerodynamic). Similar foils in water are called hydrofoils.

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