During a visit to a Monastery in Slavsk, we encountered a herd of ostriches on the farm. I was pleasantly surprised to see ostriches in Russia and didn’t think they would be able to survive there because of the cold. Ostriches are very popular in South Africa and there are even excursions in Oudsthoorn where you can ride on one. Believe me it is very difficult to ride an ostrich!
The Monastery in Slavks is a working monastery and for nuns only. They have a large piece of land where they plant, farm and keep animals. The herd ostriches were among the different animals. Mom knew about them because she`s been to the farm before but for us it was a real treat.
We were standing closer to take a couple of photos when one of the women came to warn us about the camera lenses. Growing up in South Africa as a child we were always warned that if you carry or wear something shiny the ostrich will peck at it. They don`t do it to be mean but are very curious birds. Off course the camera lenses were also shining and I didn’t want to take the risk to have my DSLR damaged by an ostrich beak!
Mom told us to look for a special plant and feed it to the ostriches as they loved it. Andrey went scouting close to the road and came back with a handful. They fed it to the ostriches and I took photos.
Ostriches are amazing birds. Did you know that they have three stomachs? I didn’t but it is true! They can run very fast up to 70 mph. Their kicks are very powerful and when threatened they use all strength and can kill a human and predator by kicking forward.
Sadly over the years the ostrich population has declined rapidly and they are slowly being introduced in other countries. Maybe that is why we saw them here in the Kaliningrad province.
The monastery has a small curio shop where you can buy souvenirs and something to eat. It was inside this shop that we saw the giant ostrich eggs. I have seen them before and we even had one in our home that was beautifully decorated. Ostrich eggs are huge! They really are. Andrey couldn’t believe how big this egg was.
- Ostrich eggs are the largest eggs in the world and can measure 15 cm long.
- One ostrich egg contains about 24 small chicken eggs.
- The female incubate the eggs by day and the male by night.
- Eggs hatch normally after 35 to 45 days after incubation and it is the male who protects the little ones from predators and teach them how to feed. Females will also assist with the parenting process.
People often say that an ostrich buries his head in the sand. This is not the truth and merely a myth. When they detect danger they as low as possible on the ground which might give people the impression that they burry their heads in the sand.
Ostriches are fascinating birds and will go without water for days. How do they survive without water? They use moisture in roots and plants or insects. They do like to take the occasional bath.
Where: Monastery in Slavsk, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russian Federation
When: 16 June 2012