Finally, we found the ostrich family of many…

Only a few members of the large ostrich family we’ve been longing to see.

Every few days since we arrived, we’ve driven around Marloth Park looking for the ostriches. We’d heard the chicks were huge already but still glued at the hip to their parents.  Here’s some information on ostriches from this site:

“Ostrich Facts: The World’s Largest Bird

Ostriches are large, flightless birds that have long legs and a long neck that protrudes from a round body. Males have bold black-and-white coloring that they use to attract females. Females, on the other hand, are light brown.

Ostriches are bigger than any other bird in the world. They can grow up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and can weigh up to 320 lbs. (145 kilograms), according to the African Wildlife Foundation, and an ostrich’s eye is 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter — the largest of any land animal. The ostrich is the only bird that has two toes on each foot. All other birds have three or four toes, according to the American Ostrich Association.

Several fast-growing chicks close to a house in the bush.

Where do ostriches live?

Wild ostriches live in the dry, hot savannas and woodlands of Africa. They once roamed all over Asia, Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula, but because they have been hunted so extensively, wild ostriches’ range has been reduced to sub-Saharan Africa. However, ostriches can be found in captivity all over the world.

What do ostriches eat?

Ostriches are omnivores, which means they eat both vegetation and meat. Although they prefer plants — especially roots, seeds, and leaves — they also eat locusts, lizards, snakes, and rodents. They also eat sand and pebbles, to help grind up their food in their gizzard, which is a small pouch where food is crushed and ripped up before it reaches the stomach.

It’s difficult to get preferred photos with ostriches with their heads up when they are constantly pecking on the ground. These are two of the dozen or more chicks.

Mating habits

Male ostriches are called cocks or roosters, and females are called hens. A group of ostriches is called a flock. Flocks can consist of up to 100 birds, though most have 10 members, according to the San Diego Zoo. The group has a dominant male and a dominant female and several other females. Lone males come and go during mating season.

To get a female’s attention, males bow and flap their wings outward to display their plumage. When they are ready to mate, the male’s beak and shins will turn bright red. Sometimes, his neck will change to a red color to match. Females also change color when they are ready to mate. Their feathers will turn a silvery color, according to the American Ostrich Association.

The larger dark feathered ostrich on the right may be the dad. Females have lighter-colored feathers.

Ostrich eggs & baby ostriches

Ostrich eggs are 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter and can weigh up to 3 lbs. (1.3 kg). Eggs are laid in a communal nest called a dump nest, which can hold about 60 eggs at one time. Males, as well as females, sit on the eggs until they hatch, which can take 42 to 46 days.

Other facts

It may seem amazing that an ostrich’s thin legs can keep its large body upright. Their legs are perfectly placed so that the body’s center of gravity balances on top of its legs.  Their thin legs give them great speed and maneuverability, too. They can run up to 40 mph (64.3 km/h) for sustained periods of time, according to the American Ostrich Association.

Contrary to popular belief, ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand, but they do lie down with their heads against the ground when they feel threatened. It only looks like the ostrich has buried its head because its head and neck blend in with the color of the sand.

Ostriches fight with their feet. They kick forward because that’s the direction in which their legs bend, according to the American Ostrich Association. A solid kick can kill a lion.

Ostrich feathers look shaggy because they hang loosely and don’t hook together like feathers on other types of birds.”

It’s such an oddity, that an ostrich’s eye is the largest of any land animal in the world. We often notice their large eyes when we get up close and personal with these peculiar birds which are abundant in Marloth Park, Kruger National Park, and other areas of Africa where they flourish in the wild.

There’s always one or two on the lookout to ensure their safety from predators.

Yesterday afternoon, when the ceiling in our bedroom was being repaired along with the screen door to the veranda, that “Little” had damaged on a recent visit, we decided to embark on what proved to be a two-hour drive over bumpy dirt roads, recently made more difficult to navigate due to the weeks of heavy rains. Now that the skies seemed to have cleared and the road graders have been working on the dirt roads, the roads are better than they’d been a few weeks ago.

It’s hard for us to believe we’ve been here for 50 days so far. Somehow, the time flies so quickly when we’re here, enjoying the many amazing aspects of this wildlife conservancy along with the blissful social aspects. Speaking of which, we have a few busy upcoming social events in a row over the next several days.

Tonight, Thursday, we’re heading to Jabula Lodge & Restaurant for dinner with friends Linda and Ken, who will be returning to their home in Johannesburg next Tuesday. Tomorrow night, Friday, we’re hosting sundowners at our house, for eight of us for which we’ll set up another table on the veranda to ensure social distancing. Included in that group are Linda and Ken, Andrew and Lesley, Louise and Manie (a different Louise), and the two of us.

On Saturday night, we’ll be going to Amazing Kruger View Restaurant, formerly known as Aamazing River View, for sundowners to celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary, which is actually on Sunday, March 7th.  After enjoying the views of the Crocodile River, we’ll again head to Jabula Lodge & Restaurant. On Sunday, the actual day of our anniversary, Linda and Ken invited us for some “bubbly” and a nice meal cooked on the braai.

  • As a result of all of these social plans, we’ll be busy over the next four nights. By Monday, once again, we’ll prepare our dinner on the braai and revel in the beauty and magic of the bush, as we spend each day and evening on the veranda watching stunning wildlife in the garden. Life is good.

We hope life is good for you!

Photo from one year ago today, March 4, 2020:

The entrance to the Raaj Bagh Restaurant, which facilitates guests of the hotel and is located across the street. For more photos, please click here.

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