We are the bearers of fantastic news! Our resident Somali ostrich couple – through dedication and vigilance – successfully hatched 12 chicks. Here is Dad is taking his turn to sit on the nest just prior to the hatchings. Incredibly, an ostrich egg can weigh as much as two dozen chicken eggs.
The Somali Ostrich is a subspecies to the Ostrich and is endemic to Kenya’s north. It is more beautiful than its common cousin, its feathers having a more vivid black and white, with blue neck & thighs (rather than pinkish), which become bright blue on the male during the mating season. The females are slightly larger than the males and browner in plumage than other female ostriches.
Ostriches live in small flocks which typically contain less than a dozen birds. Alpha males maintain these flocks and mate with the group’s dominant hen. All of the group’s hens place their eggs in the dominant hen’s nest – though her own are given the prominent centre place. The dominant hen and male take turns incubating the giant eggs, each one of which weighs as much as two dozen chicken eggs.
Here at Shaba our ostriches tend to be more monogamous and this couple have been together for a while and we were delighted with their brood of 12.
Sadly, after a few days the family reduced to 9 chicks – probably taken by smaller carnivores and raptors.
Though they cannot fly, ostriches are fleet, strong runners. Adult ostriches can sprint up to 43 miles per hour. They use their wings as “rudders” to help them change direction while running. An ostrich’s powerful, long legs can also be formidable weapons. Ostrich kicks can kill a human or a potential predator like a lion. Sadly young ostrich chicks have none of these attributes and are highly vulnerable, as we found out from this incredible picture taken by guest Dee Drummy – 1 poor chick taken by a martial eagle on, ironically, Friday 13th September.
Contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand – though the parents must have been tempted after this occurrence.
On a happier note, Dee & Brian Drummy also took this fabulous pic of our aardwolf mum peeking out from her den. Mother & cub are doing extremely well!
Our trailcam is going from strength to strength – more in our next blog.
For now, kwaheri ya kuonana!
Karl & Sally