Ostrich Feathers

About Ostriches

The Ostrich is the heaviest and largest living bird. As its species name, camelus hints, the ostrich was earlier known as the “camel bird” owing to its long neck, big eyes, and extensive eyelashes, as well as its jolting walk.

Also, similar to camels, the ostrich can withstand high temperatures and go without water for long periods.

As they are so heavy, this flightless species can never get to the skies; rather, they prefer to run. Its thick, large, and strong legs can cover long distances effortlessly, and its feet have only two toes for rapid speed.

Ostriches can sprint up to 43 miles/hour (70 km/hour) in short bursts, and they can maintain a uniform speed of 31 miles/hour (50 km/hour).

Ostriches are omnivores, depending on both veg and meat. Although they like eating plants more, mainly roots, leaves, and seeds. They also eat snakes, lizards, locusts, and rodents. Sometimes, they also consume pebbles and sand to help grind up their food inside their gizzard.

Wild ostriches exist in the dry, tropical savannas and woodlands of Africa. However, You can see ostriches in captivity all over the world.

They previously traveled all around Asia, Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula. But, because they have been killed so extensively, wild ostriches’ range has been decreased to sub-Saharan Africa, as stated by the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.

Most maximum ostrich subspecies are not considered endangered, though their populations are decreasing. Somali ostriches are reported as endangered. Although their population is unknown, it is believed that they are rapidly declining.

About Ostrich Feathers

Unlike most birds’ feathers, ostrich feathers are soft, smooth, and loose. They do not hook together the way other birds’ feathers do, which provides the ostrich a “shaggy” look.

The feathers can also get soaked during rain because they do not have a specific gland to waterproof their feathers. Adult male birds have beautiful white-and-black plumage; adult females and immature birds have grayish-brown feathers.

Their skin color varies depending on the subspecies, with few having dark or light gray fur and others possessing pinkish or even reddish tone.

The common ostrich is farmed worldwide, especially for its feathers, which are beautiful and also practiced in feather dusters. Its skin is used for leather goods, and its meat is sold commercially, with its leanness a typical marketing feature.

Common ostriches feathers can sustain a broad range of temperatures. In much of their environment, temperatures range approximately 40 °C (72 °F) between day and night.

They use their wing feathers to cover the naked surface of the upper legs and flanks to maintain heat. Their wings have 16 primaries, 20–23 secondary, and four alula feathers, and they possess 50–60 tail feathers.

Types of Ostrich Feathers

Wing Feathers

Ostrich wing feathers are also referred to as ostrich plumes. The enormous wing plumes of male birds can vary between 20 to 30 inches long with a width that can measure 12 inches across. The wing feathers have thicker stems than drabs. “Feminas” is a kind of wing plume similar but from the female bird.

Drab Feathers

The drabs are ostrich’s shoulder feathers and possess a thinner stem and slightly smaller herl. They are usually much smaller than wing plumes. They are famous for small-to-medium feather centerpieces and art and craft projects, masks, costumes, and floral arrangements.

Tail Feathers

The tail has round-headed feathers, ranging in size from 16 to 18 inches long, with stems/quills around 2-3 inches longer than on drab feathers. They are excellent to use for floral arrangements, mask-making, decorations, and hair fashion design.

Spad Feathers

Spadonas are frequently referred to as spads, are feathers of a juvenile bird. Spads are wispy hair-like feathers, which spreads out from a stiff center quill. The tips of the feather may be slightly skeletal and thin.

Floss Feathers

Floss feathers, ranging from 12 to 17 inches, are thin and soft ostrich feathers. They are set underneath the bottom of the plumes as a single layer of feathers. They’re flexible and do not possess a stiff center quill as other types of ostrich feathers.

Ostrich Feather History

Ostrich farming began in South Africa at the beginning of the 1860s, and ostriches were farmed only for their feathers.

We now refer to the start of the industry, from 1863 to 1915, as the primary phase, mainly between 1890 and 1914 as the Feather-boom period. You would earn more wages for 1kg of feathers than 1kg of gold during that period.

The farmers of Oudtshoorn were referred to as Ostrich Baron because of the money they made from the trading of ostrich feathers to the global market.

Ostrich’s feathers were extremely fashionable, and females in Europe did not dare to be observed without feathers in their hats or Boa’s near their necks in public.

The initial landlord of Safari Ostrich Farm became so rich that he made a grand mansion called a feather palace from all the wealth he made from exporting the feathers to Europe. Mr.Olivier named his mansion Welgeluk (Good Luck in Dutch). But he really did not have enough luck.

Four years after he made this house, the feather business collapsed, and he lost tremendous wealth. It was because, in those times, they only practiced the feathers from the ostrich.

They were so busy earning money from the exportation of feathers that they did not think of practicing the leather or the meat. Then with the beginning of World War I in 1914 and the discovery of the automobile, the feathers were out of fashion almost overnight.

Purpose of Ostrich Wings

If they’re not capable of flying, why do they possess wings? For one reason, ostriches own their wings to help them balance while running, significantly if they quickly change direction.

Their primary use, though, along with the tail feathers, is for courtship and displays. An ostrich keeps its head up high and lifts its tail and wings feathers to show dominance. While to show submission, the wings, tail, and head droop down.


Do Ostriches change their feather color when they are ready to mate?

To get a woman’s attention, males bow and wave their wings outside to showcase their beautiful plumage. When they are willing to mate, the male’s shins and beak will become bright red. Sometimes, the male’s neck will also turn to a red color to match.

Women also change color when they are fully prepared to mate. Her feathers will change to a silvery color, as stated by the American Ostrich Association.

What is the law on poaching?

Under the Poaching Prevention Act of 1862: a police officer can search and stop any vehicle or person on any highway, alley, or public area if there is reasonable cause to suspect poaching. Any article, game, dog, or vehicle, if practiced in offense, may be detained and seized.

How to acquire an Ostrich feather?

You can collect ostrich feathers in one of two ways: Plucking while the bird is alive or acquired from the ostrich post-mortem after the bird has been slaughtered for its meat (ostrich is a popular treat in Africa) and skin (to make exotic bags and shoes).

Does live feather plucking hurt Ostriches?

Live plucking causes birds tremendous pain and anxiety. Once their feathers are split out, several ostriches, paralyzed with fear, are left with gaping injuries, some also die due to the plucking.


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