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Big birds: Ostriches are amazing in several ways
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OUTDOORS JUST FOR KIDS

Big birds: Ostriches are amazing in several ways

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Ostriches

The ostrich is the biggest bird in the world, but it can’t fly. It is a pretty amazing creature in several other ways, though.

Adult ostriches are 7 to 9 feet tall and weigh 200 to 350 pounds. They can live to be 30 to 40 years old. Their legs are very strong, allowing them to run 40 mph while taking strides as far as 10 to 16 feet. One powerful kick from an ostrich can kill a man or beast, like a lion. On each two-toed foot they have a sharp claw, like a velociraptor dinosaur.

An ostrich egg is as big as two-dozen chicken eggs. The mother will sit on her own eggs, as well as those of other females. It's called a dump nest. She keeps her eggs in the center where they will have the best chance of hatching. How she can tell the eggs apart from another ostrich's eggs is unknown.

It’s not true that ostriches bury their head in the sand when in danger. That myth may come from the fact that they will crouch down and drop their heads to blend in with their surroundings to hide. From a distance the big roundish blob can look like an ant hill or stump.

Ostriches are only found in the wild in southern Africa, although they once roamed as far north as Israel. Years ago, their feathers were very popular for women’s hats. The feathers became so expensive that many birds were killed.

With such long necks and good vision, ostriches are able to see up to 2 miles away. Yet the birds’ brains are actually smaller than one eyeball.

— Brett French, french@billingsgazette.com

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