Somali Ostrich

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Common Name: Somali Ostrich
Scientific Name: Struthio camelus molybdophanes

Size: 96 inches (2.5 m)

Habitat: Africa; found in eastern Africa from north-eastern Ethiopia, across Somalia, to north-eastern Kenya, its range corresponding roughly to the area known as the Horn of Africa.

Somali ostriches prefer bushier, more thickly vegetated areas than other subspecies.

Status: Near Threatened. Global population: Unknown. The wild Ostrich population has declined drastically in the last 200 years, with most surviving birds in reserves or on farms

Diet: Grasses, shrubs, seeds, roots, leaves and flowers. Occasionally they consume locusts and grasshoppers. They have also been known to eat small animals, such as lizards and mice.

Nesting: Though generally similar to other ostriches, the skin on the neck and thighs of the Somali Ostrich is grey-blue (rather than pinkish). During the mating season, the skin of the male becomes bright blue. The neck lacks a typical broad white ring. The females are slightly larger than the males and browner in plumage than other female ostriches.

The Somali Ostrich differs from other ostrich subspecies in that they generally live in pairs or alone, rather than in flocks. Ostrich mating and egg laying will occur shortly before the onset of the rainy season, so that when the chicks hatch there will be plenty of food to sustain them until they are several months old. The completed clutch is incubated by the male at night and the dominant female during the day.

Cool Facts: Molecular evidence indicates that the East African Rift has served as a geographic barrier to isolate this taxon from the nominate subspecies, the North African Ostrich, Struthio camelus camelus. Ecological and behavioral differences have also kept it genetically distinct from the neighboring Masai Ostrich, Struthio camelus massaicus. An examination of the mitochondrial DNA of Struthio taxa, including the extinct Arabian Ostrich, Struthio camelus syriacus, has found that the Somali Ostrich is phylogenetically the most distinct, appearing to have diverged from their common ancestor some 3.6 to 4.1 million years ago.

There is some range overlap between the Somali Ostrich and the Masai Ostrich. Ecologically they are differentiated by the Somali Ostrich preferring bushier, more thickly vegetated areas, where it feeds largely by browsing, whereas the Masai Ostrich is mainly a grazer on open savanna.

There are reports of interbreeding difficulties between the two taxa.

Found in Songbird ReMix Ostriches

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