Somali ostrich

Blue necked browser ostrich from North-east Africa

Donna Brown

Somali ostrich


Blue necked browser ostrich from North-east Africa


The Somali ostrich is an intriguing species that, until recent years, was considered merely a subspecies of the common ostrich. However, mitochondrial DNA studies have since shown that it is genetically distinct, warranting its classification as a separate species.

The Somali ostrich bears a strong resemblance to its common ostrich relatives but possesses certain characteristics that set it apart. The plumage of the Somali ostrich is notably cleaner and darker, which may provide better camouflage within its specific habitat. The males are especially striking during the breeding season, when their necks and legs take on a vibrant blue coloration, and their bill and legs may become tinged with pink, a display designed to attract females.

This species is native to the Horn of Africa, particularly the Somali Peninsula, where it roams the arid and semi-arid grasslands, bushlands, and woodlands. The environment it inhabits is harsh, with extreme temperatures and limited water sources, making the Somali ostrich’s adaptations essential for its survival.

In terms of social behavior, the Somali ostrich tends to be less gregarious than other ostrich species, often found alone or in small groups. Their calls, while similar to those of the common ostrich, help maintain communication across their habitat’s vast open spaces.

Their feeding habits also differ slightly; the Somali ostrich is more of a browser than a grazer, preferring to feed on shrubs and trees’ leaves, seeds, and flowers. This diet is well-suited to the sparse vegetation of their environment and allows them to exploit a niche that may not be as readily available to ground-grazing animals.

Despite its adaptability, the Somali ostrich has experienced a rapid decline over the past five decades. Poaching remains the most significant threat to its survival, with their feathers, skin, and meat all being valued on the black market.


Population est.

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No