Being a young ostrich on a farm isn’t all work and no play. These little ones are showing us just how much fun ostriches can be with their adorable dance moves. They might not even know it yet, or perhaps they are starting to become aware, that this is how they will one day acquire a mate.
The Strange Social Structure of Ostriches
Male ostriches will do this little dance routine during mating season. If a female is interested, she will reciprocate with her own little dance moves, and so the courtship begins.
In each group of ostriches living in the wild, there is usually a dominant male and a dominant female. This male will mate with his lady and occasionally with a few of the other females in the group. The dominant female will mate with no other male.
When it comes time to lay their eggs, it’s sort of a hierarchy ordeal. All of the eggs are placed in the same pile, but the dominant couple will always place theirs in the middle. This ensures a better survival. The eggs from the stronger ostriches are placed around the dominant eggs, branching out to the weaker ones. If the dominant couple thinks the ostrich in the egg is from too weak of an ostrich pairing, that egg will be placed on the outskirts of the pile and will be neglected.
The dominant male and female are the only ones who will incubate these eggs. They generally take turns doing so, with the female covering the daytime and the male covering the night. These nests can hold as many as 60 eggs.
When these babies hatch they are the largest of any baby bird. They’re usually the size of chickens. At this point all of the males and females will care for the young ones.
This type of social hierarchy reminds me slightly of times past, when Kings and Queens ruled the world. The times when only the strong survived. I’m certainly glad that we have evolved past that, but perhaps this survival instinct is what has kept these flightless birds around.