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North African Ostrich

  • Birds

Introduction to the North African Ostrich

The North African Ostrich (Struthio camelus camelus) is one of the largest birds in the world, and the only extant species of its genus, struthio. This majestic bird can be found in the deserts and semi-deserts of Africa, ranging from Senegal to Egypt and even along the coast of the Red Sea. This species is well-known for their enormous size and their speed, with some individuals reaching a maximum height of more than nine feet and able to run up to speeds of more than 50 mph.

Physical Description of the North African Ostrich

The North African Ostrich is a large, round-bodied bird with a grey-black body and long, feather-less neck and head. Its legs are long and thickly feathered and its beak is yellow or orange in colour. Its eyes are set low on the head and have long, reddish-brown eyelashes. The North African Ostrich has a long, powerful wingspan that can reach up to 10 feet. The female is slightly smaller than the male, with a lightly mottled grey body.

The most notable feature of the North African Ostrich is its immense size, with some individuals reaching up to nine and a half feet in height and weighing as much as 350 pounds. This species is the heaviest of all living birds, making them stand out amongst other avian species.

Behaviour and Habits of the North African Ostrich

North African Ostriches inhabit open, grassy plains and semi-deserts and can be found in large tracts of land. They are very fast and can run up to speeds of 50 mph, making them the fastest of all land birds. North African Ostriches are diurnal and travel in flocks of up to 40 individuals. They feed on vegetation such as leaves and grasses, as well as roots and fruits.

The North African Ostrich is polygamous, with the males competing for access to the females. Their courtship involves a display of head-shaking, drumming of the wings, and loud alarm calls. Males will also inflate and deflate their neck and throat feathers during the courtship ritual. These birds build nests of soil and grasses on the ground, raising their young in communal groups.

North African Ostrich two

Threats to the North African Ostrich

The North African Ostrich is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN RedList, as it has experienced a significant population decline over the past 100 years. This is mainly due to habitat destruction, illegal hunting, and egg collecting, as well as competition with domestic livestock for resources. Furthermore, these birds are still being hunted as a source of meat, feathers, and other products.

In order to aid in the conservation of this species, many governments have put in place enforcement of egg collection laws and regulations on hunting, as well as programs to create protected areas and restore previously degraded habitats.


The North African Ostrich is truly an amazing species. Not only are they the largest and fastest of all living birds, but they also have an interesting courtship ritual and communal nesting behaviours. Unfortunately, this species is at risk due to habitat destruction and illegal hunting, so it is important that we work to protect its habitat and actively reduce the number of individuals being taken from the wild.

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