We're fortunate in Africa to have both the largest land mammal and largest bird in relative abundance. However, while the African Elephant is always a joy to watch the Ostrich is ...well....just an ostrich. There is no question that the elephant is a worthy inclusion in an African 'Big 5' (mammal) list but I'd argue that the ostrich is nowhere near charismatic enough to make a birding 'Big 5' list. Give me a Secretary Bird, Martial Eagle, Pels Fishing Owl, Kori Bustard or Marabou Stork any day.
Perhaps if I got to study ostriches I'd feel differently. Perhaps I'd also feel differently if I hadn't been chased by one as a youngster - much to the amusement of my friends. My reason for doing the 'bat out of hell' impersonation with the ostrich behind me was:
- they can grow over 8ft tall
- can weigh up to 300 lbs
- can run at speeds of up to 40mph
- have a booming call that, some say, sounds like a lion
- and have powerful legs with razor sharp claws that can slice you open with one well-directed kick!
(this last point being the one that comes to mind when faced with an angry bird)
Experts say that in the event of a determined ostrich attack there are a few survival strategies (running away is not usually on that list). One of them is to 'play dead'. Perhaps this explains the images, below, that I obtained when I set up a camera at a 'salt-lick' recently.
And now for my first trick.........playing dead.
Next....the headless chicken routine
So could the ostrich be the comic of the avian world? With their brains reputedly smaller than the size of their eyeball I somehow doubt it. I guess they're just being......well.......ostriches.