Species Profile: Ostrich
By Allie Cerretani (University of Vermont ’15)
The ostrich may be flightless, but it has its own adaptations that allow it to persist in Namibia’s arid environment. Instead of the enlarged flight muscles and bones found in most birds, it has long legs, only two toes, and massive leg muscles adapted for running at high speeds for relatively long distances. All birds have enormous eyes relative to their body size, and the ostrich has one of the largest eyes of any land animal. It is found throughout Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa, but true wild birds, rather than domesticated hybrids, are found only in Namibia and the Kalahari. It has a booming roar heard mostly at night that can be mistaken for a lion’s roar. Males, females, and chicks have different feather patterns that are differentiated rather easily. The ostrich is considered to be fairly rare in Namibia, evidenced by the fact that game guards have to note every time they see one in their Event Book. This makes it super exciting that we have seen so many during our time in Namibia.