male; black wings and back; long neck, legs (South Africa; 2007-07-16)

Common Ostrich
Struthio camelus

Native Range: Africa

Notes: one of several flightless "ratite" birds that makes its living by walking and running on strong legs; defends itself with powerful kicks; can run as fast as 40 mph, the fastest land speed of any living bird; also lays the largest eggs of any living bird; eats mostly plants but also some invertebrates; lives in nomadic groups of about 5-50 birds; breeding system consists of harems in which a territorial male fights for the mating rights to several females; altogether, the so-called "ratite" birds consist of several ancient lineages that are evolutionarily distinct enough as to warrant placement into several different taxonomic orders (Struthioniformes in the case of ostriches).

male sitting; note pinkish bill (South Africa; 2007-06-30)

adult female; gray wings and back; flightless (South Africa; 2007-07-16)

juvenile; note the powerful legs (South Africa; 2007-06-30)

posing for a portrait; note the broad bill (South Africa; 2007-06-30)