This is the largest bird on the planet: the red-collared ostrich (Struthio camelus). The characteristic that stands out in the red-necked ostrich, and hence its name, is its sizeable reddish-colored neck. Besides, it has a small head compared to the proportion of its large body. In spite of being a bird, the ostrich cannot fly; it is well known that it has enormous wings, but this wild animal of the desert has a higher weight than these can bear. So the wings are used more to steer or brake when running.
This bird is large, can measure from 1.70 to 2.80 meters high, while females measure from 1.60 to 2 meters high, here you can see the sexual dimorphism in this wild species. In terms of weight, males weigh 180 kg, while females about 150 kilograms.
The plumage is also another sign of sexual dimorphism. Males are characterized by black plumage and white wingtips and tails, while females may vary in plumage. When they are younger, you can notice a gray or brown, and when they grow, sometimes can be changed to black.
It has a robust body. It has long legs, thin, but very strong and muscular, which it uses to run or defend itself. So with which you can reach a speed of up to 65 km/h, thus becoming the fastest terrestrial bird on the planet.
Red-necked Ostrich Habitat
The ostrich is native to the desert, specifically in the desert of North Africa. Because they live in extreme heat conditions, the red-necked ostrich has evolved and adapted more and more to the temperatures and conditions of its habitat.
What does it feed on?
Red-necked ostriches have an omnivorous diet. Their diet is dominated by the plants, flowers, roots, stems, vegetation, and fruits found around them; however, when this type of food is not abundant, they consume carrion or small animals. These birds can eat 2 to 5 kg of food daily. This means 2 or 3% of their body mass.
Because they do not have teeth, these animals swallow the food, and with the esophagus, they make a series of movements with the muscles; and thus the food arrives crushed to the stomach. Something characteristic of these birds is that they ingest stones since this helps them to crush the food that is in the stomach.
How does it reproduce?
Notably, the male is the one who builds the nest; and the female is in charge of laying the eggs. As they are birds, they reproduce in an oviparous way. The red neck ostrich is a polygamous animal so that it can have up to 5 pairs. The strongest female is the one that can lay the eggs first; these are the offspring that have the best chance of surviving, as they will have more protection against temperature and predators.
The dominant female lays up to 12 eggs, while the others put half. A single ostrich egg can weigh up to 1 kg, which equals 24 hen eggs. The incubation period lasts about 42 days. Once the hatchlings are born, they grow about 20 cm per month in the first year.
Predators of this bird
The predators of the red-necked ostrich are few and far between; they lurk mostly at eggs and young animals such as the vulture and the jackal. However, ostriches are excellent defenders of their family members. Generally, the male is in charge of fighting and distracting the predators, so that the offspring and the females can flee.
One advantage that females have is that their brown plumage allows them to camouflage well, which helps them hide from predators and protect their offspring.
Relevant information about the Red-necked Ostrich
Like the camel, the red-necked ostrich can hold on to the water it ingests, and this allows it to go several days without drinking water; so it does not dehydrate as quickly as other animals. This is very useful to them in their arid habitat. Also, it can obtain water from the moisture of the plants and vegetation on which it feeds.
Because it lives in extreme heat conditions, it has a thermoregulatory system; that is, it regulates its temperature to stay calm. The wings are protagonists in this process, with them it can be ventilated, moving them up and down, something similar to what elephants do with their big ears. On the other hand, even if it doesn’t seem like it, it is freezing in the desert at night, so they can also use their wings to keep warm.