A bird that can’t fly may sound like an oxymoron, but the ostrich – the world’s largest and heaviest bird – was made to stay on the ground.

An ostrich can grow up to 9 feet tall and weigh up to 320 pounds, making their lack of flying abilities more obvious. Unlike most birds, an ostrich has a flat breastbone that doesn’t provide enough pectoral muscle needed to take flight. The lack of muscle, tiny wings, and considerable weight all force ostriches to remain on the ground. However, what they lack in flight, they make up for in speed. The ostrich is the fastest animal on two legs and can run at a rate of 45 mph (72 km/h), with some even peaking at 60 mph (96.6 km/h)! 

The accolades for the ostrich don’t stop there. These animals have the largest eye of any living land animal! Their eyes measure 5 centimeters (about 2 inches) across and take up so much room in the skull that their eyes are bigger than their brains. These large eyes enable them to see as far as 2.2 miles (3.5 km) across the grassland and bush. Ostrich eggs are also the biggest of any living bird and are typically 15 cm (around 6 inches) long. Eggs can weigh up to 1.5 kilograms, which is about the weight of 2 dozen chicken eggs!

Ostriches are native to about 25 African countries and reside in hot savannas and woodlands. Though they once roamed all over Asia, Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula, they are now primarily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa due to excessive hunting. These animals are omnivores – eating both plants and meat – but mainly stick to a diet of grasses, shrubbery, berries, seeds, and roots. The vegetation they consume serves as their primary water source, but they will drink water if they come across a watering hole.

There are many places for you to see an ostrich while on an African safari. In Tanzania, the Masai ostrich, also known as the East African ostrich, is the most prevalent. This species of ostrich has a red neck, making it stand out amongst the grassy plains. Be sure to bring your camera on your safari adventure – you won’t want to miss capturing one of the most unique birds in the world!