The flightless ostrich is the world's largest bird. They are native to Africa and the only living species of its family. The Somali ostrich was recognised as a distinct species in 2014. The ostrich lays the largest eggs of any living bird. Only extinct elephant birds of Madagascar and the giant moa of New Zealand laid larger eggs. The ostriches have very decorative feather for which they are farmed around the world. Their feathers are also used as feather dusters. Leather products are made from its skin and its meat is marketed commercially around the world.

Ostriches typically eat plants, roots, and seeds but will also eat insects, lizards, or other creatures available in their sometimes harsh habitat.

Ostriches usually weigh from 65 to over 130 kilograms. The feathers of adult males are mostly black, with white primaries and a white tail. Females and young males are greyish-brown and white. The head and neck of both male and female ostriches is nearly bare, with a thin layer of down. The long neck and legs keep their head 1.8 to 2.75 metres (6 to 9 ft) above the ground. The wings reach a span of about 2 metre.


Though they cannot fly, ostriches are fleet, strong runners. They can sprint up to 43 miles (70 kilometers) an hour and run over distance at 31 miles (50 kilometers) an hour. They may use their wings as rudders to help them change direction while running. An ostrich's powerful, long legs can cover 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters) in a single stride.

Ostriches live in small herds that typically contain less than a dozen birds. Alpha males maintain these herds, and mate with the group's dominant hen. The male sometimes mates with others in the group, and wandering males may also mate with lesser hens.

All of the group's hens place their eggs in the dominant hen's nest—though her own are given the prominent center place. The dominant hen and male take turns incubating the giant eggs, each one of which weighs as much as two dozen chicken eggs. The ostrich will either hide itself by lying flat against the ground or run away when threatened and can attack with a kick of its powerful legs when cornered.