The Lofty Ostrich

The ostrich roams the great Sahara.
Its mouth is wide, its neck is narra.
It has such long and lofty legs,
I’m glad it sits to lay its eggs.   (by Ogden Nash)

In the 1920’s in Kenya ostriches were farmed for their plumes, and my grandfather made a not-very-successful stab at this on his farm, hidden in the trees behind the small red roofed house,


and now derelict,


inhabited only by a family with goats:


But wild ostriches flourish in the Maasai Mara. Their scientific name is Struthio camelus, and they do indeed hold their head and neck rather like a camel does. They are the world’s largest bird, standing up to 9 feet tall, and weighing up to 350 lbs.


When you drive past in the Land Rover, they take evasive action by running along ahead of and beside you at up to 43mph, using their wings as rudders to change direction:


and wiggling their bottoms in a sort of dance as they go:


Their legs are extremely powerful, and a kick can kill a man or indeed a lion. This photo shows both the thigh muscles, and the feathers:


And no, they do not stick their heads in the sand!



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