The touching story of the lonely female ostrich that captured Londolozi hearts all those years ago has reached a whole new high. We are incredibly delighted to announce (and yes I am aware that I sound like a proud mother) that the pair of ostriches have as of today six new chicks!!

ostrich and chicks

A view of four of the six hatchlings. The other two hide below the wing of the male ostrich. Photograph by Amy Attenborough

Rangers arrived at the nest this morning to check up on the situation and where one normally finds the male ostrich committedly incubating the eggs, there were six wobbly youngsters instead. Still wet from their hatching and fumbling about on unstable legs, we believe that the chicks hatched only this morning. When I was at the nest the mother of the youngsters hadn’t returned for the change over yet but by the time James Tyrrell arrived later in the morning she had taken over the clutch care responsibilities. This would have been the very first time she had seen her chicks. The chicks are streaky in appearance (what is referred to as hedgehog down) with spiky black-tipped buff down and a line of black spots down their neck. Their camouflage is so perfect for the surroundings that should the young hatchlings lay unmoving and flattened to the ground, you wouldn’t even notice them as they blend into the scenery and soil around them. According to Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, the youngsters won’t be able to walk well for the first 24 hours but will already be leaving the nest in just three days time when they’re able to run up to 10m. One thing I found fascinating is that the chicks actually lack an egg tooth to cut themselves from the egg and thus break out by means of muscular spasms. This process can take as long as 9 hours, which is an astonishing struggle for such a young animal.

ostrich-chicks

The female ostrich with her brand new chicks for the first time. Photograph by James Tyrrell

For those of you unfamiliar with this bigger story, it really is a remarkable one of hope. Three years ago the female arrived quite unexpectedly from the Kruger (we assume) and despite some near misses from  lions, leopards and hyenas has managed to survived her harsh environment. It seemed that as no other ostriches appeared on the horizon and she became more lonely, she turned her attention to Londolozi game viewing vehicles for company. This all changed just a few months ago as two male ostriches made a surprise appearance on the property. After much chasing and antics, she eventually chose a mate and before we knew it, Londolozi’s first-ever clutch of eggs had been produced. Just a few short days ago the story took a turn for the worse when the nest was raided by hyenas and five of the eggs were eaten. Although seven remained untouched and were returned to the nest, we weren’t sure if the eggs had been damaged and if any youngsters would survive. We now know however that as of this morning, the ‘lonely’ female ostrich everyone has been so worried about for years now has a family of eight.

Ostrich Amy

The female ostrich displaying for a vehicle in the days prior to the arrival of her mate. Since his arrival she doesn’t seem to feel the need to seek the company of humans any longer. Photograph by Amy Attenborough

Until now this pair of birds has managed to beat the odds but it seems their work may have only just begun. With the number of cats, eagles, jackals, snakes and other potential predators roaming through Londolozi these chicks will remain vulnerable for a long while. Adults care for the young for up to 9 months and then the young form compact groups that wander off on their own. To protect youngsters, one of the adults may perform a distraction display. This happens when an adult runs quickly away from the group, collapses with a swaying neck and flops its wings in a broken-wing display. When predators gets closer to the adult, they jump up and run away, giving the youngsters the chance to scamper for safety. The young are apparently also very susceptible to sudden changes in temperature, particularly cold and wet weather and problems with internal parasites.

As is always the case we can only surmise what the future of this brood will be but can promise that we will keep you updated on this unlikely story of love and survival.

Filed under Birds Featured Wildlife

About the Author

Amy Attenborough

Media Team

Amy has a rich field-guiding history, having spent time at both Phinda and Ngala Game Reserves. This diversity of past guiding locations brought her an intimate understanding of different biomes across South Africa, and she immediately began making a name for herself as ...

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24 Comments

on Breaking News: Ostrich Chicks Hatched!

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Bev
Guest

Hooray, good news indeed. Amazing stuff after what the eggs went through. Nature at its best.

Dina,Guido
Guest

congratulations!!!

Ginger Brucker
Guest

This is so incredible. With such an amazing mother as a guide, these chicks have the best opportunity to survive and thrive. I know it is a tough environment. Is it possible to “lookup” to an ostrich as a role model! She is mine.

Jenny
Guest

Makorokoto!

Loretta
Guest

OMG so amazingly cute! This was the best news to wake up to. I hope they all remain safe!

Susan Olson
Guest

YES!!!! HOW EXCITING FOR MADONNA.

Kim Sams
Guest

Happy Birthday, little ones!!!

Judy B.
Guest

So exciting to see the babies! Hope they are kept safe! Thank you, Amy!

Brenda Quatember
Guest

Read you first story and it was amazing, against all odds and finding you all as friends a mate eventually arrived,
I was very perturbed to read last week hyenas has raided the nest, and now absolutely delighted to see the new
clutch, just goes to show animals adapt to environment.
This is a very different and special story in an environment not suited to them, look forward to the follow up.

Laura Eberly
Guest

Amazing! This is inspirational, especially with all the negative news in our human world. Thank you!

Judy Guffey
Guest

Wonderful. Fingers crossed for the hatchlings safety.

Evette Hartig
Guest

Such wonderful news for the Ostrich, who we have grown to love, and all the people at Londolozi!

Amy
Guest

How wonderful!! I do hope the little buggers make it. Thank you Amy

Lou jacobs
Guest

Such an amazing story! I’m so pleased some survived – they look so much more beautiful than I thought they would! Looking forward to seeing the updates of them growing up! 😊

Susie Hirst
Guest

Congratulations Mum & Dad💝

The Barish Family
Guest

Great news! Jennifer was so friendly to us when in the vehicle in June. We were sad that she was lonely. We hope these babies survive!

Amanda
Guest

Great to hear Ams! Holding thumbs they learn to run fast! 😊

Lydia Watson
Guest

Brilliant news! I’ve been following this story religiously and I’m so delighted that these eggs hatched. I will be reading all updates to check on progress!

Jill Larone
Guest

What fantastic news!! I hope they stay safe and I can’t wait to hear further update on how they are doing. Thanks for the great pictures and video Amy!

Kate Imrie
Guest

Yippeeeeeee!!!!!! They have done so well so far, holding thumbs for the next stage.

Steve Wall
Guest

I have been following their story and so it was fantastic to on the first vehicle who saw the chicks yesterday morning

Kabir
Guest

This is great news . I hope that they survive.Plus they were born on the day before my birthday.

Janice
Guest

They have survived a lot already. Let’s hope this continues. Congratulations Mum & Dad Ostrich and happy birthday Chicks!

Lori
Guest

Fantastic news, we where at the camp when the nest was attacked. Great to see the chicks

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