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.

formerlyat a previous timeMore (Definitions, Synonyms, Translation)

Lifestyle changes…Two days and counting…

Mom and baby are enjoying the river.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Cape buffalos sure know how to cuddle. Note the bird on his head.

Our friends will arrive in Marloth Park in less than 48 hours. Tomorrow, Vusi and Zef will come and do a central spring cleaning of the entire house, including the upstairs guest area, which will be for Tom and Lois’s exclusive use, two nice sized bedrooms (one to store their clothes and bags), and a good-sized bathroom.  

It looks as if the elephant on the right has been splashing water on herself.

There’s a full-sized sofa in the spacious hallway if either of them prefers some quiet time to nap or read. Closet space and shelves to store toiletries are at a minimum in Africa (from what we’ve seen), but there’s a table they can use in the same hallway for such items.

Cattle egrets are constant companions of the elephant, particularly near water.

Of course, we’ll insist they have full access to enjoy the living areas with us and help themselves to anything their hearts desire in the bar and the kitchen.  Hopefully, they enjoy sitting outdoors with us when they aren’t busy, but we’re not making any “rules” other than to insist they do exactly what suits them and that they have a good time.

I chuckled when Tom wrote and asked we had a TV. We have a flatscreen TV, but the channels are not quite what we were used to in our old lives. We’ve yet to watch a single show since we arrived.  

None of the channels are from the US, nor is there any US news.  We watch all of that on our laptops. Many channels are in other languages, and shows are unfamiliar and of little interest to our tastes.  

This little one could be as young as a few days old.

However, we use our HDMI cord to watch Minnesota Vikings football games or other streaming or downloaded shows from our laptops.  We still use the app, where for a monthly fee of ZAR 295 (US $19.95), we can watch many recent US TV shows and movies.

On average, including the football game, we don’t spend more than an hour a day watching shows. In our old lives, every night, after dinner, we’d park ourselves in front of the TV, and there we’d stay until bedtime, often enjoying a homemade dessert (before my diet change in 2011).  

The youngster was enthralled with swinging his trunk around.  What a fun discovery!

Instead of escaping into a mystery TV series or two each night, we’re entrenched in the mysteries Mother Nature presents every evening in a “live show.” There are no commercials in the bush! That’s no longer our lifestyle, and for us, we’re much happier this way.

Our friends, although experienced world travelers, have never lived in the bush in Africa. No doubt, there will be a bit of “culture shock” when they arrive on Tuesday, even as they drive in their rental car from the airport through the many small towns along the way.  

It was time to venture back up the embankment, a long hike for this little one.

We’ve sent them excellent directions as to how to get here, and as motorcycles enthusiasts traveling all over the US, we have no doubt they make their way to our front door on Tuesday morning without a problem.

They’ll undoubtedly be exhausted after traveling for over a day and may need to rest before we bombard them with the wonders of the bush. Most of the holidaymakers (the school holiday ends today) will have left, and once again, the bush will be quiet and more wildlife will visit us. 

When sugar cane is harvested, the leaves are burned, making a mess for miles around. We often find the veranda covered in soot.

This afternoon we’re visiting friends for sundowners (the happy hour in the bush) and will return home by dinnertime for a lovely Sunday dinner I prepared today.  

Last night, we had another delicious and fun-filled evening at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant. There’s never been a time we haven’t had a fabulous evening in a friendly and appealing environment.  

Four male ostriches were fluffing their feathers. 

Last night was a rugby playoff game between South Africa and New Zealand. It was easy for us to get into the exciting tempo in the bar, enjoying the game along with all the locals. The conversations were lively and animated, the food was over-the-top, and Dawn and Leon, the owners, always make us feel welcomed and included.

May your day be filled with beautiful surprises!

Photo from one year ago today, October 7, 2017:

This was the first sighting we’ve had of a Toucan in the yard.  Once the downed tree was removed, it opened up an area where Ulysses spotted the two birds and came to tell us. Notice the piece of fruit in their beak.  For more photos, please click here.

This is too weird for words…Do they read road signs?…

Where in the world would one drive down a road to encounter this site outside their car window?

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We didn’t realize we hadn’t cut this piece of lettuce into smaller bites for Ms. Bushbuck.  When we saw her tackling this big piece, we couldn’t help but laugh.  She managed it eat the entire big leaf.

After finding the ostrich chicks and mom and dad on Volstruis Street on July 6th (see that post here) based on a text Louise sent us after she’d spotted the family, we couldn’t help. Still, we were amazed that they were hanging around this particular street that translates to “ostrich” in the Afrikaans language.  

At that point, we thought it was a fluke that ostriches would be grazing on a street that means “ostrich.” But, that fluke didn’t keep us from returning to that street several times in the past month in an attempt to see the family again.
First, we spotted mom and dad hanging out near this building.  Moments later, we saw the seven chicks.

On Friday afternoon, before our usual drive along the Crocodile River to see what we could discover, we decided to drive down Vostruis Street to see if we could find the ostrich family.  

Alas, after heading down Volstruis in one direction and then another, we saw them, the mom, the dad, and the seven chicks who’d easily doubled in size over the past month.  

We were thrilled to see all seven had survived this past month.

“How peculiar!” we both commented in unison. Do these fantastic oversized birds read road signs? How is it they so happened to spend a good portion of their time on a street, meaning ostrich?

Then, we wondered if perhaps before the street was named, it was indeed a haven for ostriches prompting the naming of the street some 40 years ago. Who knows?  If any Marlothians out there have an answer, please let us know. It’s quite curious.

Even more peculiarly is the fact that when a lion was sighted within the confines of Marloth Park a few months ago, it was first seen on Leeu Road, which translates to “lion” in Afrikaans.  

We didn’t have an opportunity to take a photo of all seven chicks together.

We’d shared a post, found here, regarding the lion sighting mentioning the fact it was first seen on Leeu Road, not realizing at the time that “lieu” translates to “lion” in Afrikaans. 

Last Sunday, when we spotted the lions across the river at the “Two Trees” overlook, I saw a young boy, pointing across the river shouting, “leeu.” At that point, it dawned on me the peculiar fact that the lion appeared on Leeu Street, which we wrote about on June 23rd, as indicated in the above link.

The chicks, most likely a few months old, are on their own in foraging for food. The parents do not feed them once they’re out of the nest. They emulate the parents pecking behavior and begin foraging at a young age.

Surely, these sightings on these two roads must be entirely coincidental unless one has some mystical beliefs regarding this magical place. Neither lions nor ostriches read road signs, as far as we know.

Regardless of what any of this may or may not mean, we were thrilled to see once again this family of seven chicks and their diligent mom and dad watching out for their safety.

Dad kept a watchful eye on the chicks when they wandered off.

There’s little information online as to the raising of ostrich chicks. We can only surmise how the young chicks are raised by their diligent and cautious parents through our observation.

It is clear that the female watches for predators and the male watching the chicks so that they don’t wander off far from view. We’ve observed this on several occasions, and it is further indicated in the above photo.

At specific points, the chicks say close to one another as they search for food.
Never for a moment do we fail to appreciate the gift of being privy to the cycle of life here in the bush. And, over the next many months until we depart in February, more and more offspring of these amazing animals will be born, allowing us to cherish further the remarkable ability most animals possess in caring for their young.
Dad lets them know to stay close.

Today, we’ll embark on yet another drive. It’s overcast and still a bit windy and, due to increased tourist activity over the weekend, we’ve had few visitors since Friday other than a few warthogs and mom and baby bushbucks. All of them we thoroughly enjoy, as shown above in the “Sighting of the Day in the Bush” photo which we took last night slightly before dusk.

Have a pleasant balance of the weekend, wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, August 5, 2017:

There was a cafe at the front of the Supermercado Coopeatenas, where we grocery shopped, often busy with ex-pats. For more photos of Atenas, Costa Rica, please click here.

Another busy day in the neighborhood…Chicks, chicks and more chicks!…Fun video in Sighting of the Day”…

This cute little chick was one of seven we found in the neighborhood in Marloth Park. Thanks for the tip, Louise!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush” 

 What a hysterical night when we heard this noise that lasted for hours! 
A friendly visitor stopped by amid the noise and didn’t seem to mind a bit.

With Louise and Danie frequently moving in Marloth Park with their property management and building businesses, they’re often the first to discover interesting sightings.

We were thrilled to find the ostrich parents with seven chicks exactly where Louise had said she’d seen them 10 minutes earlier.

Knowing and appreciating how enthusiastic and passionate we are in great photo ops to share here on our site, they never hesitate to let us know about unique and special sightings. Obviously, if they spot a kudu, bushbuck, or warthog, they don’t notify us. Plenty of them visits us each day.

Mom and Dad were obviously very proud of their family.  Ostriches mate for life.

Over the past few days, when they’d spotted ostrich parents with seven or eight chicks, they didn’t hesitate to let us know. Yesterday, when Louise sent me a Messenger note stating that she’d spotted the ostrich family near the corner of Volstruis (oddly, Volstruis means “ostrich” in Afrikaans) and Hornbill, we were in the car and on our way within two or three minutes.

The chicks weren’t concerned about wandering a short distance from their parents, making it impossible to get one photo with all seven of them.

We didn’t expect to find them when we were deciding which way to go as we reached the intersection of the two streets with four options in front of us.  Tom, with his watchful eye, noticed a stopped car on Volstruis a short distance down the road and said, “Let’s go see what they’re looking at!”

Alas, safari luck prevailed, and there they were, in the garden of a house that didn’t appear to be occupied. Brazenly, Tom pulled into the driveway so we could have a “bird’s eye view” (no pun intended), and we were as close as we could be without intruding on their “pecking” as a family.

Peck, peck, peck.  They seemed to fit edibles in the dirt.

We observed them for quite some time, not only to take photos but also to enjoy this magical sighting. Tom turned off the engine as we sat and watched. There was no point in getting out of the car, although our photos may have been better.

If they stopped by our garden, which they may eventually do, we’d have some ostrich-appropriate treats for them.

Ostriches can be dangerous. From this site: “Ostriches can be found in the wild, on safaris, or ostrich farms. But regardless of where you find them, treat them with the utmost caution. Although they do not prey on humans, they have been known to injure and kill when provoked. Extremely fast on foot, they can deliver mortal blows by the sheer force of their legs, never mind the lethally sharp talons at their toes. The best thing you can do is steer clear of them. Failing that, ducking for cover and hiding works best. As a last resort, you may even have to fight them.”

These three chicks of the seven seemed to stay close to one another.

That’s exactly why we didn’t exit the car. However, we’ve seen visitors in Marloth Park getting dangerously close to ostriches with little regard for their own safety of the magnificent birds, the largest on earth.

From this site:  “Ostriches are large, flightless birds with long legs and a long neck protruding from a round body. Males have a bold black-and-white coloring that they use to attract females. Females, on the other hand, are light brown. (Continued below).

Their young feathers and markings are adorable.

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 eyes are 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.”

At one point, Dad didn’t seem to be happy with us being so close.  Ostriches can be dangerous if they feel threatened, especially with their chicks nearby. We rolled up our windows and moved back. 

After we returned with the above photos, I attempted to get back to work on yesterday’s post. As we’d planned, Ken stopped by (with Don) to provide me with some useful camera tips. He’s quite the expert, and I had many questions. He adeptly answered all of them, providing me with several important bits of information.

Here we were able to get six of the seven in one photo.

Tom and Don chatted while Ken and I, both with similar cameras, spent about an hour reviewing many aspects of photography that will surely help me in the future. I’m not promising my photos will substantially improve, although they may gradually become more professional-looking.

I’d never taken much interest in photography in our old lives. It just didn’t interest me. Now that we’re traveling over the years, I’ve wanted to improve my less-than-ideal skills. We’ll see how it goes.

Mom frequently stood up from pecking to check her surroundings for any threats.

Many photos we’re sharing over the next several days were taken before “camera school.” I’ll attempt to use what I’ve learned to up the quality of my photos in the future.

Saying this put just enough pressure on me to use what I’ve learned and not fall back into my old patterns of often using the wrong settings for the scene.  Please be patient with me.

“Ostriches normally mate for life, and they share the task of incubating the eggs. Ostriches form bisexual groups with a complex structure. Territorial males compete for flocks of three to five hens. Mating includes elaborate displays of hisses and dancing.”

Last night, even in the chilly weather, we managed to stay on the veranda until bedtime. Bundled up in warm clothing, we enjoyed several visitors, including four wildebeest who must have been friends of Wildebeest Willie since I recognized him in the “implausibility of wildebeest.” (Yep, that’s what a group of wildebeest is called, an “implausibility”). Go figure.

Today, we’re busy getting ready for tonight’s dinner party. We’re having a traditional American-type pork braai (barbecue). We’ll share photos, the menu, and details in tomorrow’s post.

I was up very early this morning chopping and dicing, so to say, so there would be time to get today’s post uploaded by noon our time. Hopefully, it will be a little warmer than last night for our outdoor dinner party.

Have a fabulous weekend wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, July 6, 2017:

Tom, Tammy, and Vincent on our last night in Minnesota when we all said goodbye. For more photos, please click here.