Ostrich Ostriches are large, flightless birds that have long legs and long necks that protrude from a round body. Males have a bold black-and-white coloring that they use to attract females. Ostriches are bigger than any other bird in the world. They can grow up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and can weigh up to 320 lbs.
Ostriches' habitats vary based on the country in which they are located, but many live in grasslands, savannas, or rocky areas. They eat plants and insects. Ostriches have been observed digging their own water wells by creating deep holes with their beaks and drinking the water at the bottom of them.
Ostriches are social animals, so they have been observed living in groups containing many males. Males are larger than females and more brightly colored, which helps distinguish males from females during displays. Males perform courtship displays for up to an hour to attract a female's attention. Females lay clutches of two to three eggs. Sometimes, other females will lay their eggs in another's nest, resulting in as many as seven eggs per female.
Ostrich babies are about one foot (30 centimeters) tall at birth and can grow quickly into full-sized adult birds. They are able to run within 35 days of hatching. Baby ostriches eat insects and drink water as soon as they can, but don't develop adult feathers until eight to 12 months after hatching. They reach sexual maturity at about three years old and can live for up to 40 years in nature and 50 years or more in captivity.
Ostriches are killed primarily for their feathers and hides and also because some people believe that their meat has special health benefits, such as improving the immune system. The feathers of the ostrich were popular for use as fly-whisks, especially in Egypt where they are also used as costumes. Plumes from male ostriches' tail feathers were worn by male aristocracy during the 19th century as a fashion item and are still worn on military uniforms today.
Ostriches make a variety of vocalizations, mostly used to alert other ostriches about potential dangers. They can also make a sound similar to a human laugh when in distress, which may have contributed to the myth that they cannot laugh.