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Ostrich: Common

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Johan van Rensburg
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Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Wed Feb 07, 2007 8:37 pm

I remembered a post or two about ostriches in KNP (or the lack thereof, as the posters suggested). We have always been lucky to regularly find Ostriches in the Kruger. The trip to Shingwedzi this past weekend was, again, no exception. At Olifantsbadpan on our way to Shingwedzi we found a small group (about 10) of the big birds. I thought the background elephant was a nice touch… Thanks, Ma Nature!

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It was obvious to us that some of the group were young birds, probably a clutch that beat the odds that are posed by hungry cats, dogs and whatnots. The next day we witnessed a similar scene at N’warihlangari. TWO lots of ostriches at different places in KNP of unusually large size… Amazing coincidence?
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Unread postby lisa » Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:59 pm

We also saw quite a few ostriches near Shingwedzi, hanging out with their zebra friends. These were taken January 3rd.

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Unread postby Laine » Tue Aug 14, 2007 1:50 pm

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Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sat Oct 06, 2007 2:04 pm

Thought I'll post a pix of some chicks - they look nothing like mom and dad :lol:

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Unread postby restio » Sat Oct 06, 2007 3:28 pm

JvR, those are particularly cute chicks. Ag, shame!

This reminds of an interesting sighting we had in KTP in May 2004. We came across a pair of ostriches with an astonishingly large brood of chicks.

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It's easier to see just how many there are on the larger pic. Looking at the all my pics, I count about 42 chicks. And two adults - one male, one female.

According to the doorstop Roberts, the dominant female ostrich as well as any other females will lay eggs in the same nest, and the resulting chicks may be cared for in a "creche" so I assume that's what was going on here. I wonder how many of the chicks survived....
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Ostrich - My observation.

Unread postby adw » Wed Dec 19, 2007 4:05 pm

As I've said before I have been going to KNP over a period of 5 decades and it is only lately (past 3 years) that not only have ostrich sightings become more common but that they are far more approachable than in the past. Previously, if you did see an ostrich, they would be far in and not really worth photographing no matter what size telephoto lens you had. Nowadays I see them on every trip in all 3 main sections. i.e South ,central and Northern sections of the park. You can now photograph them with a medium sized lens and they also sometimes appear in groups of 5 or more. By Mopani I recently spotted 11 in one group.
With regards to the big 5 on bird sightings I was amused to note that the ostrich is not on that list! That is almost like leaving the elephant off the animal big 5 list.
What I have never seen in the KNP are ostrich chicks. They are obviously well hidden and blend in with the long grass.
As the heading indicates this is my observation and would be interested to see what other forumites have to say.
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Unread postby Owl » Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:32 pm

On ostriches: Great that you've had a lot of success adw, but our scientists have detected a subtle decline in Ostrich numbers over the last couple of decades which they attribute to bush encroachment.

Good areas include: North - around Babalala; Central - on the tar road to Nwanetsi; South/Central- some of the grasslands around Lower Sabie (both north and south of the river)

On the Big 5/6 point, I'm sure you realise that it is not related to size per se, but on the mammal front to those 5 species which were most prized by big game hunters. Hence leopard and lion are in ahead of the larger hippo and giraffe. On the birding front, it's more a creation of an parallel to the traditional big 5 and comprises of 6 species that are much sought after by birders and which are difficult to see outside of Kruger. I guess because ostriches are farmed in many parts of the country, they don't have quite the same magic to novice and experienced birders.

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Unread postby adw » Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:40 am

Thanks Owl for your reply. It is sad that the numbers are declining in the KNP as I have read some time ago in an article in a birding magazine that there are only 2 areas left in S.A. where true wild ostriches can still be seen in the wild and that is KNP and Barberspan.
Maybe I have just been lucky in spotting ostriches more regularly now and just maybe the birds themselves are more tolerant of vehicles than what they used to be.
As for the big birding 5 if these are the last 2 areas ostriches can be seen in the wild then, in my opinion, they are worthy to be included on the big 5 list.
I have found the following roads productive for spotting ostriches in the Knp. S28, H10, H6, S90, S41, S144, S143.
When I get home I will post some photos of Ostriches I have managed to take over the past couple of years.
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Unread postby arks » Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:59 pm

adw wrote:I have read some time ago in an article in a birding magazine that there are only 2 areas left in S.A. where true wild ostriches can still be seen in the wild and that is KNP and Barberspan.

:shock: I've seen plenty of ostriches recently (September and October 2007) in KTP, WCNP and Cape Point. Are none of those considered "true wild" ostriches?!? :shock:
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Unread postby Owl » Thu Dec 20, 2007 8:40 pm

Only the ones in Kruger are considered truly devoid of human translocation/domestication etc, but those in West Coast and Table Mountain qualify for the 3 generation sustainable population rule as an independent legitimate species alongside exotics like Common Myna, Roseringed Parakeet, Chukar Partridge etc.

I would have thought those in Kgalagadi were too, but according to adw the only other spot in SA is from Barberspan?

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Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Thu Dec 27, 2007 11:20 am

KTP ostriches (>16 000 as opposed to >500 for KNP) are certainly considered (Roberts VII) to be "genetically" part of the "wild" population.

There is only one species of Ostrich, Struthio camelus. The wikipedia link features a great article on ostriches and lists the subspecies found throughout the range of the bird.

The introduction in 1876 of small numbers of Arabian birds (presumably camelus and the now extinct syriacus), followed by the importation of 132 camelus from Nigeria in 1912 to improve feather quality of domesticated Ostrich stocks and the subsequent uncontrolled relocation of fertile hybrid Ostriches to numerous localities throughout South Africa has raised fears about widespread introgression to the point where conservation agencies are concerned for the genetic integrity of australis, the southern African subsp.

From a birding point of view, this has little to do with us as the "3-generation-rule" should suffice in deciding if an ostrich sighting is tickable or not. Besides, a study done in 1993 by Freitag and Robinson to find phylogeographic patterns in the DNA of the Ostrich concluded that no significant lineage differences could be found in australis. Birds from the wild populations at KTP, KNP, and various other reserves in SA as well as wild birds from Botswana and Namibia were compared to birds from the Little Karoo (focus point of the introduction of camelus and syriacus). Based on this study, little evidence for the continued survival of extralimital lineages within the australis gene pool could be found.
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Unread postby gwendolen » Thu Dec 27, 2007 11:45 am

Image


Kruger ostriches with two chicks seeking shelter in the shade.
(November 2007)

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Re: Ostrich: Common

Unread postby adw » Mon Sep 28, 2009 4:33 pm

Whilst travelling on the S129 earlier this month I came across an ostrich couple with at least 12 chicks. After visiting the park for many, many years this is the first time I have come across ostrich chicks. Once the chicks moved into the long grass it was extremely difficult to spot them.
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Re: Ostrich: Common

Unread postby DuQues » Sat Oct 30, 2010 9:49 am

Arriving currently: The photos from our trip! Overhere! :yaya:

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Re: Ostrich: Common

Unread postby adw » Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:43 pm

I saw a male and female ostrich on the S127 in Nov 2010. They refused to get out of the way and I was able to drive fairly close to them without them running away which is most unusual. Then I saw them. Two ostrich chicks about to cross the road.

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This is only the second time that I have seen ostrich chicks in the Park despite numerous adult sightings.
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