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Somali Ostrich - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Glen Tepke
Samburu National Park, Kenya, June 2009
Struthio molybdophanes


An unmistakable, terrestrial and flightless species.


Female with chicks
Photo by nick scarle
Samburu National Park, Kenya, March 2009
  • Larger than females
  • Blue-grey bare skin of most of head and neck, also thighs
  • Black lower neck
  • Black body and wing-coverts
  • White remiges and tail, sometimes brown stained with soil
  • Pale grey-brown eye
  • Bare areas on thighs and neck duller in non-breeding


  • Similar to male but greyer and duller
  • Light blue-grey iris

Immatures and juveniles

  • Similar to females


Found in southern Ethiopia, Somalia and adjacent northeastern Kenya.


This is a monotypic species.
Formerly considered conspecific with Common Ostrich.


More often in bush and scrub than Common Ostrich.



Feeds on grasses, seeds and leaves. In dry areas succulent plants are also taken. Takes sometimes insects and small vertebrates.
Forages in groups, browsing close to ground.


The nest is a shallow scrape in the ground. Usually the major hen lays 5 to 11 eggs and 2 to 5 minor hens lay 2 to 6 eggs each in the common nest. The young form large groups which are accompanied by one or more adults for the first 9 months.


Mainly silent but makes occasional hissing sounds.
Male has a deep booming during the breeding season.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334108
  3. Birdforum thread discussing the taxonomy and possible splits of Ostrich

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