Ostrich Do Not Actually Bury Their Heads In The Ground Out Of Fear

Samuel Reason | August 15th, 2018

Let’s start off by getting one thing straight, ostriches don’t bury their heads in the ground and believe they are actually hiding from a predator. This is an unfortunate urban legend, the reality is that ostriches dig a small hole to make their nests in.

scienceabc.com

So why would so many people believe ostriches dive into the ground in fear and believe they are hidden? Well, it comes from a common misconception.

All birds tend to house their eggs in a nest, the ostrich is no different in that regard. The only issue is ostriches can’t fly so they are not seen building their nests in trees or other secret places. They dig into the ground and make nest underground to protect their eggs. They can’t just leave them on the surface because that would be way too dangerous.

Once the eggs have been laid and the shallow nests have been dug, well, of course, a protective mother will be checking her eggs. They tend to stick their head carefully into the nest and make sure the eggs are warm enough, and then turn them carefully. Because ostriches are a big bird with a very small head, when you see this from a distance it is quite easy to mistake them for burying their head in the ground.

There is another reason this myth came about, and that is due to how ostriches react when they see a predator. Unlike other animals they tend not to flee the scene or try to outrun the predator, ostriches elect to freeze. They crouch flat on the ground and lay down their heads too, remaining super still. From a distance, it can be easy to mistake them for some sort of bush, with this technique they hope the predator will just pass. You could compare it to a sort of camouflage attempt.

So next time you hear someone telling that myth, remind that ostriches are not actually stupid enough to think to bury their heads in the sand will get them out of danger, they are actually just being a good parent.

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