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The Somali African ostrich, known in its homeland as Gorayo, is distinguished by its large size and bright plumage. In natural conditions, hunters endanger the population. Consumer interest is not only poultry meat, the weight of which often exceeds 150 kilograms, but also eggs. This subspecies easily adapts to captivity, and becomes a common inhabitant of farms.
Gorayo is rightfully considered the tallest and most massive representative of the birds. The ostrich reaches 2.5 meters in height, and the average weight ranges from 130 to 155 kilograms, sometimes reaching a record 175 kilograms. Females are heavier and larger than males.
Long neck and thighs, devoid of plumage, gray in color. The dark plumage of the body effectively contrasts with the grayish-white tail and wings. The body of the females is covered with brown feathers. African ostriches have no goiter and keel, the neck is plastic, the muscular frame of the chest is poorly developed.
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The head of the Somali is small, with large eyes and a flat beak. On the crown, sparse hairs are visible, forming a characteristic receding hairline.
Ostriches cannot fly. The undeveloped wings turn into two toes with claws or spurs at the ends. Long, strong legs allow you to reach speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour.
Character, behavior and lifestyle
Ostriches live in families that include a male and a group of 4-5 females during the dormant period. During the mating season, the male accepts other females in the territory he controls, entering into a fight with competitors.
In nature, ostrich families easily change their place of residence, moving together with zebras and antelopes. Growth allows the bird to notice an approaching predator at a great distance, signaling danger with a characteristic cry.
The peak of physical activity occurs during twilight hours. Birds rest at night and in the midday heat. Short periods of deep sleep are spent lying down with the neck extended. Most of the rest is the nap period, when the bird sits with its head raised, eyes closed.
The habitat of ostriches is steadily narrowing. The Somali subspecies is common in Somalia, southern Ethiopia, northeastern Kenya. Somalis are found in savannas, deserts, but, if possible, ostrich families choose plain areas richer in vegetation. Moving to new territories for habitation, birds settle near water bodies.
Natural enemies of ostriches
Adults differ in speed, strength and are able to show aggression in case of danger. Lions, cheetahs, leopards become a threat to the ostrich family. A healthy mature ostrich is rarely attacked by predators. With one blow, birds can lay on the shoulder blades of a lion. Ostrich eggs and newly hatched offspring are more common prey. Eggs are hunted by jackals, hyenas, vultures.
During the breeding period, the birds are especially vulnerable and ready to protect the clutch and chicks by any means. If the ostrich senses danger for the brood, without hesitation, it will attack.
What do they eat
The diet of Somali ostriches is based on plant and animal food. In natural habitat, birds eat:
- green parts, fruits, rhizomes of trees, shrubs, plants;
- lizards and small rodents;
- leftovers from the prey of predatory animals.
Each inhabitant of an ostrich farm will need about 3.5 kilograms of feed daily. Somali ostriches have no teeth, so gravel and small pebbles become an integral part of the diet.
Birds need water. Natural endurance allows ostriches to survive for a long time without drinking in the presence of plant food. Drinkers are placed in the aviary.
Reproduction and offspring
By the age of three, ostriches reach sexual maturity. The male controls the territory, an area of several kilometers, into which he does not allow other males, but welcomes the females. In the presence of a competitor, the ostrich makes a characteristic sound reminiscent of a deep growl, and then attacks the opponent. The winner holds the territory and mates with the females present on it, forming a pair with one. Females lay eggs in a common nest, which they equip in a deepening of the ground. Males take part in hatching offspring, replacing the female at the nest at night.
Ostrich eggs grow up to 21 centimeters long and 13 centimeters wide. The weight of such an egg is 1.5-2 kilograms. After 45-50 days, 10 to 12 chicks hatch, pushing off with their limbs and hitting the shell with the back of the head. In newborn ostriches, the average weight of which is 1-1.2 kilograms, you can notice a hematoma on the head, formed as a result of a blow.
Population and status of the species
Breeding Somali ostriches in artificial conditions allows maintaining the population, the number of which continues to decrease in nature.
In addition to the goal of subspecies conservation, farmers breed birds to obtain:
Ostriches are considered centenarians. In a favorable environment, some individuals live up to 80 years. The birds are distinguished by their endurance and good health.
Ostrich farms are ubiquitous today. Birds are able to adapt to the cool temperate climates. Artificial breeding of ostriches minimizes the risk of extinction of the population.