Somali OStriches in Samburu National Reserve

Somali OStriches in Samburu Natuional Reserve : The Somali Ostriches are one of the most fascinating birds in 2004, Somali Ostriches are flightless birds due to their large bodies and with massive bare legs and long bare neck and head they are also known as the blue necked ostriches. Male Somali Ostriches are 210-275, 100-156kg cm and then a female ostrich 175-190cm, 90-110kg. Loose plumage is solidly black in the male apart from the bright white tail and the small wings, females are dark brown. Somali Ostriches belong to the family of the struthionidea family they are classified in the ratite groups of birds, all extant species of which are flightless, including the kiwis, emus and rheas.


Though generally similar to other ostriches, the skin of the neck and thighs of the Somali Ostrich is blue (rather pinkish), becoming bright blue on the male during the mating season. The neck lacks a typical broad white ring, and the tail feathers are white. The males are larger than the females, the Somali Ostrich is similar in size to other ostriches so far as is known, perhaps averaging marginally smaller in body mass than some subspecies of the common ostriches.

Somali OStriches in Samburu National Reserve
Somali OStriches in Samburu National Reserve

Distribution of the habitat.

The Somali Ostriches are endemic to Africa though they can be found in the Horn of Africa, especially in the eastern Ethiopia, southern Djibouti most of Kenya you can encounter in Samburu National Reserve and across most of Somalia.

Behaviour and ecology.

The Somali Ostrich is differentiated ecologically from the common ostrich, with which there is some range overlap, by preferring bushier, more thicky vegetated areas, where it feeds largely by browsing, where as the common ostrich is mainly a grazer on open savannah, there are also reports of interbreeding difficulties between the two taxa.

Diet Somali Ostriches.

In Samburu national reserve, Somali Ostriches were found to spend most of their time feeding and moving. They were also found to spend substantial proportion of their diurnal activity time resting and preening, and were rarely engaged in the rest of the studied activities, Generally Somali Ostriches spend the largest proportion off their time feeding during the day, comparatively they spend a greater proportion of their’ time – activity budget feeding during the morning period (63.89%,SD=6.78) than during midday (59.79%,SD=5.46) and evening (38.24%,SD=3.62) periods, time spent in feeding was found to vary between the wet and the dry season. Durnial activity budget for feeding declined from a mean of 61.22% in dry season to a mean of 44.35% in wet season and the difference in mean values was confirmed by student t-test to be significant at 95% confidence level (t= 2.2723, p= 0.05). Both males and females allocated more time to feeding during dry season as compared to the wet season (male; dry= 59.6%, wet= 40.1, Females; dry= 56.6%, wet= 43.3%). However, t-test revealed that the difference in time allocated to feeding between the two sexes was not significant (t= -0.118 p= 0.907).

The proportion of time spent in feeding by the males (54.3%) was lesser than in females (55.14%). However, the difference in the proportion of the time spend in feeding by the two sexes was not significant (U=444.5; p=0.994) based on the Mann-Whitney test.

Somali Ostriches are omnivores but tend to favour roots, leaves, succulents, shrubbery, and the seeds, their diet also consists of the lizards, locusts, snakes and the rodents. Somali ostriches also eat sand and the pebbles which aid digestion of food inside their gizzard.

Conservation status.

A report to the IUCN International Union for Conservation of Nature’s in 2006 suggests that the Somali Ostrich was common in the central and the southern regions of Somalia in the 1970s and 1980s. However, following the political disintegration of that country and the lack of any effective wildlife conservation, its range and the numbers there have since been shrinking as a result of uncontrolled hunting for meat, medicinal products and eggs, with the bird facing eradication in the Horn of Africa. In Kenya it is farmed for meat, feathers and eggs.

Mating habits.

A group of ostriches is called a flock, flocks can consist of up to 100 birds, though move have 10 members, according to the San Diego Zoo. The group has a dominant male and a dominant female and several other females. 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 start to mate, the male’s become bright blue on the males during the mating season as well as the females do develop some changes during the mating time.

Somali OStriches in Samburu National Reserve
Somali OStriches in Samburu National Reserve

Ostrich eggs and baby ostriches.

Ostriches eggs are 6 inches (15cm) in diameter and can weight up to 3ibs (1.3kg). Eggs are laid in a communal nest called the dump nest, which can hold about 60 eggs at once, males as well as females, sit on the eggs until they hatch which can take 42 to 46 days. Ostrich off springs are larger than any other bird baby, chicks can be as a big as chickens, the made and the females share the responsibility of taking care of the young one, according to the San Diego Zoo, during the attack the male tries to fight the predator away from the chicks while they run from cover with the female.

By six months a chick is almost at its full-grown height, at 3 or 4 years, it will reach maturity, a Somali Ostrich can live 50 to 75 years.

Challenges Somali Ostrich faces in the wild.

Somali Ostrich has suffered a drastic decline in its population and range mainly due to hunting over the years for meat, skin and the feathers in Samburu National Reserve. Somali Ostrich spend most of its diurnal time in feeding and moving and are more sensitive to human disturbance in the protected areas than they are in the partially protected areas, this brings about extinction of the Somali Ostriches.

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