Monday, June 30, 2014

Masai Ostrich

The ostrich is the largest bird in the world and the fastest, running up to speeds of 43 mph. It also lays the largest egg of any bird.
It is hard not to look at this bird and think drumsticks. A male in Nairobi NP. The legs, neck and head are extra pink because it is breeding season and love was in the air.
Same male. Good look at two toed feet.
There are five subspecies of the common ostrich, or perhaps two species, the common ostrich and Somali ostrich, with four subspecies of the common ostrich. While in Buffalo Springs NR and Shaba NR we were in areas that have Somali ostriches, which have distinctive necks and thighs of gray blue. Unfortunately, we did not see any of them. We did see the Masai ostrich, one of the four subspecies of the common ostrich, characterized by pink neck and thighs, with the male's neck and thighs becoming brighter pink during mating season. The Masai ostrich is found in southern Somalia, Ethiopia, southern Kenya and eastern Tanzania. 
This guy really had the pink. Also in Nairobi NP. Another male is in the distance.
Female in Ngorongoro Crater.
Adult male ostriches have mostly black feathers with white primaries and a white tail. The feathers of females and young males are grayish brown and white.
Males and female together in Ngorongoro Crater. Photo by John Mirau.
Female in Ngorongoro Crater with male and female in background. Photo by John Mirau.
Their heads and necks are nearly bare, but have a thin layer of down. The skin of the females ostriches neck and thighs is pinkish gray. As previously indicated, the male Somali ostrich has pink neck and thighs. The male can get as large as 320 pounds and 9 feet, two inches in height.  The female is smaller, getting up to 220 pounds and 6 feet, seven inches in height.
Female in Nairobi NP.
Female in Ngorongoro Crater. I love the mixture of blacks, whites and grays and shadows in the female.

A male and two females in a burned area near sunset in Serengeti NP.
Male in Masai Mara. Photo by Steven Shuel.


  1. Ostriches are such interesting and adaptable birds. I know of at least 2 farms in our area that grow them. I had no idea they reach the weight you've listed.

  2. One of these days I want to ride an ostrich just like the Swiss Family Robinson.

  3. I was trying to search your blog to see if you'd mentioned eating an Ostrich egg somewhere. No doubt you wouldn't miss the opportunity!

  4. Another animal that reflects the humor of creation. Who could come up with this bird but someone who liked a good laugh? (Chris, we have had an ostrich egg several times, and we've had ostrich meat as well.)