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Common Ostrich - BirdForum Opus

Revision as of 13:30, 18 January 2021 by Sbarnhardt (talk | contribs) (Update Clements to Aug19, Update BOTW reference)
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Photo by mikemik
Ngorongoro, Tanzania, May 2018
Struthio camelus


Photo © by Carole-Anne
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, July 2010
Photo © by max1
LW.Coast National Park. Cape, South Africa, November 2016

World's largest bird with males weighing up to 156 kg.
Male Male 210–275 cm (82¾-108¼ in), female 175–190 cm (69-74¾ in)

  • Long bare neck
  • legs flesh-pink becoming brighter during the breeding season

Brownish black with white neck collar, wings and tail
Female and Immature


Widespread across sub-Saharan Africa from Mauritania to Sudan and southern Kenya, south to Tanzania and in southern Africa in southern Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and northern South Africa.
Formerly widespread in northern Africa but now rare or an occasional visitor to southern Morocco and northern parts of Mali, Niger and Chad. Recently recorded in southern Egypt and may breed in small numbers.
Now extinct in the Middle East and not reliably recorded since the 1940s although there is an unconfirmed report from Jordan in 1966.

Reintroduction attempts are underway in the Negev Desert of southern Israel.

A small population of race australis may persist in south-central Australia, descendants of birds imported for the plume trade.

Resident and often nomadic, particularly in arid areas.


Somali Ostrich was formerly included in this species.


Four subspecies recognized[1]:

  • S. c. camelus in the Sahel of North Africa and the Sudan
  • S. c. syriacus formerly in Syrian and Arabian deserts. Extinct around 1966
  • S. c. massaicus in southern Kenya and eastern Tanzania - pinkish-grey neck, flushing bright red during the breeding season and narrower white neck ring
  • S. c. australis in Southern Africa but pure wild birds are perhaps confined to Namibia and Botswana - neck is greyish, flushing red in breeding male and lacks white collar, tail brown

North-west African birds are sometimes separated as spatzi.


Semi-desert, arid short-grass plains and open wooded savanna.


Inflating neck – Courtship ritual
Photo © by volker sthamer
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, 7 Sept. 2019


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, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Folch, A., D. A. Christie, F. Jutglar, and E. F. J. Garcia (2020). Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.ostric2.01
  3. Birdforum thread discussing the taxonomy and possible splits of Ostrich

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