Why does an ostrich hide its head in the sand and does it really do it?
Known animal stories are not always true. Hearing that an ostrich with a fright hides its head in the sand, people usually do not think whether it is true or not. It turns out that scientists have long studied this popular myth.
Does an ostrich hide its head in the sand
These birds are the largest of the flightless and are still preserved in the wild. Their behavior has interested people since ancient times, and the sight of the bird with its head bowed down impressed many.
Did you know? The remains of ostrich shell products were found in the Altai cave, where people lived 50 thousand years ago.
The common expression “ostrich buries its head in the sand” implies that with a strong fright, the bird considers it sufficient to hide only its head. This version is still popular in many countries.In fact, a bird can be caught with its neck bowed, but it does so for other reasons.
The history of the myth can be traced to the opinion of the ancient Roman writer Pliny the Elder, the author of Natural History. He lived in the 1st century AD and recorded that ostriches consider themselves "hidden" if they "put their head and neck in the ground."The Romans, as conquerors of many lands, spread this opinion among other cultures.
If the ostrich lowered his head low, this does not mean that he buried or hid it. There are several explanations and possible reasons why he does this.
Search for food
Ostriches eat plant food, and also eat small insects, lizards and rodents with pleasure. At first, parents give the chicks only food of animal origin. It is necessary to grind such food, but the birds have no teeth.They seek and swallow different objects:
- pebbles and small pebbles;
- pieces of wood;
- in captivity they can eat nails, pieces of plastic.
Ostriches are public animals and do not live alone in nature. Always on their guard, they sleep in turns and protect each other's sleep. A sleepy bird bends its legs and sits on the ground, bowing its head or hiding it under the wing. Sometimes in a dream she continues to keep her neck upright and only closes her eyes, ready to immediately run away at the slightest sign of danger.
From fear and for protection
An ostrich, sitting in a nest on eggs, in a dangerous situation tries to merge with the surrounding landscape and spreads its wings, neck and head on the ground. In a normal situation, a frightened bird will quickly run away from the pursuer, but the maternal instinct prompts it to stay in place, protecting the clutch.
Also, the lowering of the neck and head, along with the breeding of the wings, is a characteristic part of mating dances and is demonstrated by the female in response to the courtship of the male.
How ostriches actually behave
These feathered giants live in hot savannahs next to antelopes, giraffes and other herbivores. Traveling along the plains, they are the first to respond to the appearance of predators due to excellent vision, hearing and high growth. When fleeing from danger, their speed can grow up to 70 km / h. Only after an exhausting long run can an ostrich lower its neck, which is evidence of a complete breakdown.During the breeding season, birds become aggressive and find another use for their strong limbs. Protecting offspring, they strike with muscular legs with sharp claws. They are quite capable of injuring or killing even a large predator.
Important! Contrary to popular belief about the extreme timidity of these birds and their inability to resist actively, an ostrich can attack a person, protecting its nest or territory.
So, the question of whether ostriches shove their heads in fright in the sand has long had a definite answer. The behavior of birds, studied in natural conditions and in captivity, clearly shows that this is just an ancient delusion.