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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Somali Ostrich Facts - Interesting Facts about Somali Ostriches
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Somali Ostrich Facts - Interesting Facts about Somali Ostriches

The Somali ostrich once roamed freely over Africa, the Middle East, and Asia but due to extensive hunting, they are now a vulnerable species. Here are some interesting facts about Somali Ostriches.


It's the second largest bird in the world

The Somali ostrich is a distinct species of an ostrich that closely resembles the extinct Arabian ostrich. Due to its large size, the ostrich is flightless; however, it makes up for it with amazing speed. The ostrich is one of the fastest land animals on earth and can reach speeds of up to 70km per hour. The ostrich is best known for its extremely long neck and legs, which extend from a large round body. The legs are positioned perfectly to provide a centre of gravity, giving the ostrich its speed and mobility. Male ostriches have stark black and white plumage, which they use to attract females, whilst the female ostrich is slightly larger with dull grey-brown plumage. Unlike other species of ostriches, the Somali ostrich has a grey-blue neck, which turns bright blue during the mating season.


They are not cowards and do fight back

Despite the popular belief that ostriches bury their heads when scared, they never do this. In fact, what they do when they feel threatened is lie down with their heads close to the grown. It appears as if they have their heads buried because the colour of their head and neck blend in with the ground. However, ostriches are known to fight as well; they can deliver powerful kicks forward, and a solid kick can seriously maim or kill another creature.


They are omnivores and barely drink water

The Somali ostrich is an omnivore (they eat both meat and vegetation), but they have shown a preference for leaves, roots and seeds. Their diet also includes rodents, lizards, snakes, and locusts. To aid digestion, they also eat small pebbles and sand that help to break down food. Ostriches get most of their water intake through the digestion of plants that are rich in water, so they don't drink water daily, but they will drink water if they find a large source such as a watering hole or river.


They co-parent their young

Ostriches lay their eggs in a communal nest that can contain up to 60 eggs at once. Both parents take turns sitting on the eggs until they hatch, which takes roughly between 42 to 50 days. Young ostriches are as large as adult chickens. If threatened, the young chicks will run for cover with the female while the male will chase the predator away. On average, the life expectancy of an ostrich is roughly 50 to 75 years.


They mostly live in conservation reserves

While it is still possible to see wild Somali ostriches in parts of Africa, a large amount of the population live in conservation reserves where breeding programs are helping to increase their numbers. In the Middle East, you can view Somali ostriches on Sir Bani Yas Island. The island is probably better known for its leisure activities and accommodation like Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, or yet another beach resort in Abu Dhabi; however, the island has a wildlife park, which has a successful breeding program for Somali ostriches.