Still Learning To See

No “head-in-the-sand” here!

While on our recent travels in Botswana we sighted ostriches only twice. More sightings of this remarkable creature would have been most welcome! The are, of course, impressively large and tall but it was the flexibility of their necks  that was most astonishing. Our first sighting was of a single individual who obviously did not want to be seen.


Here it is in the same image but enlarged, seeing us even with its head turned completely in the opposite direction!

Africa-3658-2I was impressed in this instance as well as many others at the many means animals have of hiding or disguising themselves visually. Apparently the “head-in-the-sand” reputation of ostriches was a misreading of how the birds can hide by making themselves prone with their neck and head on the ground.

Animals scenting each other is also a delicate game with the winner most often approaching from downwind. One of our guides, of San decent, told us they traditionally cover themselves in strong-smelling wild sage while hunting to cover their own scent.

In our second sighting we saw a group of ostrich grazing in the gorgeous, soft light of a mopane woodland. What a treat.

This entry was published on March 1, 2014 at 9:20 am. It’s filed under Africa, Botswana, John Snell, Photograph and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “No “head-in-the-sand” here!

  1. John,

    The feeding posture is really intriguing. Here is what I find to be an interesting fact. The very (relatively speaking) long neck of the Ostrich has 17 vertebrae. The Owl, which appears to have no neck, has only 3 fewer.


    • Thanks for this observation. It was so clear to me so often that I knew so little about what I was seeing. Mostly I just had my jaw dropped, stunned by it all. The guides were very knowledgeable on so many levels and excellent communicators as well.

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