High Plains Kickers~

Look at this big gal! I wasn’t expecting to meet her! If you think she looks surprised, you should have seen Jim’s face. My first thought was that I was looking at Dr. Seus’s Grinch. You have to admit, she looks just like a friendlier version of the grinch…. except she isn’t green. And look at those eyelashes!
We have Holler Ostrich. Actually we don’t have any, but a fellow Hollerite has two. Personally, I don’t see the practicality of pet ostrich for us. I mean they can grow to nine feet, and weigh up to 320 pounds! And they can have attitudes. You can clearly see this guy’s attitude. Would you cross him? Apparently even lions don’t like to mess with ostrich and I can see why.
I think a 9 foot tall, 300 pound, attitudinal bird, that can run 43 mph, makes perfect sense in Africa, but less sense at The Holler. They aren’t your average canary after all. They can kill lions, and are the fastest two-legged creatures on earth!
Check out these female wild southern ostrich in Kruger. Aren’t they gorgeous? They are ballerina stepping, tutu wearing, high plains kickers! The Rockettes of South Africa! You go girls…..
And look how content they are. We saw two groups of ostriches. Females you are looking at here, and another group of males.
Contrary to common belief, ostrich do not hide their head in the sand when scared. Pliny the Elder just made that up around 73AD. But, as you can clearly see in this pic, they do hide their heads under their friend’s skirts. Some friends might consider this annoying, but this one seemed cool with it.
Anyhoo, seeing these incredible birds wild and free in Kruger was unexpected and a big thrill! The red necked northern ostrich at The Holler are endangered in the wild, so our neighbor gets my support for raising and caring for them, even though I would prefer to see them wild, free, and protected, in their native habitat.
Cheers to you from these spectacular, nine foot tall birds, with ‘tudes!

267 thoughts on “High Plains Kickers~

  1. Fantastic shots Cindy, those close-ups are amazing, showing every little hair! I do envy their eyelashes! We have wild emus here in Oz, and my hubby once got chased by one when he was a young fella and could run! He dived head first through the car window, my foot ready to pump the gas…..we got away. Talk about attitude!

    1. You should see their dino toe with it’s claw. It looks and functions much like a velociraptors I guess. It can eviserate a predator. But these are peaceable creatures who would rather run away and fight only when they have too. Only cheetahs can catch them~

  2. Oh they are GORGEOUS Cindy but it did take me reading this FOUR times before I read the word KICKERS instead of KNICKERS. Hmm, I can’t decide if I need more coffee or more sleep. Based on those knickers however I’d say my bed is calling, goodnight, lol! πŸ™‚

    1. Laughing, well I think you were on the right track because that one gal did have her head in the other one’s knickers……don’t blame me! It was the cameras fault for catching it! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

    1. Yay!!! You like her. If she knew what an honor this was, she would be so pleased. Plus you have to admit, she is one fashionista of a birdie! πŸ˜‰

  3. Now here’s another one I didn’t see up close over at Safari West in Santa Rosa and, from your photos, I can even see the details in their irises! Wow! Yes, I was told how strong and touch ostriches are (that their kicks can kill a large animal like a man or lion)… however I’m just mesmerized by their adorable expressions (as seen in the headshots you provided). Thanks again Cindy! πŸ™‚ <3 ~Lynn

    1. Yes, they are beautiful. They can be lethal, but they prefer to be left alone. They run away. It is only if cornered or defending their chicks that they fight back with lethal force. The only animal that can catch them in a full run is a cheetah, but wild dogs can tag team and out smart them. These are 120 million year old creatures, and some subspecies are critically endangered in the wild.

      1. Thanks for this information! Yes, I’m so fascinated by how far back birds go as well. I look at my own parrot at times and see a dinosaur! πŸ˜›

  4. Magnificent Cindy… You have done it again… taken me to places I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to go… Thank you so very much…

  5. Your photos are simply incredible! I love the idea that they have “attitude”, and they look indeed like ballerinas, especially the young girl leggy type, except that their big bodies are more like dowagers! The red necked ones look like they’re wearing lipstick. Thank you for yet another proof that God must have a great sense of humor!

  6. I didn’t know they could kill lions! and it’s quite amazing considering the grace the pair of ostrich seems to have to move like dancers. Thanks Cindy = )

    1. And, “Oh, the places you’ll go…..” How did he know? Did you know I jumped over the fence of his backyard when I was a kid, hoping to drive him out of his house? With my best friend. She met him because she was persistant, but I never did….

      1. What an absolute treat it would have been to have met him ~ his made the greatest impact on me any author ever could (we read and re-read his books). Kudos to your friend πŸ™‚ Take care ~

  7. Those are fantastic pictures – such close ups! I hope you were far away – I heard they are very dangerous and can kill someone with one kick. I would not want one as a pet. πŸ™‚

    1. It is not like a bird one typically encounters! I was really floored to see them in Africa. We didn’t see any the first time we went. They are thriling to see in the wild~

    1. Yes it a contradictory creature, graceful yet awkward, beautiful yet peculiar. I suspect this may have to do more with our perceptions than the creature itself. They are ancient animals, so they may even trigger a collectively unconscious response in us. They are fascinating~

    1. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have one live with you……They are such formidably evolved creatures. Fun? I bet they could well be! <3

    1. That is the essence of the problem about keeping an ostrich as a pet. How can you be sure you can contain them? You aren’t running a zoo or a prison, hopefully. Domestic animals occasionally get out. I don’t want to stumble out in The Holler with my morning coffee and run into an agitated ostrich! πŸ˜‰

    1. I can’t wait! I know there are a lot of them there. I’ve been looking at photos of real estate around Kruger, and sending some to my hubby. Of course, we are very unlikely to move, but……..one can always dream!

  8. magnificent and majestic bird, especially when it runs, but as you say Cindy, not your average canary. Very dangerous. I’ve seen one attack a person. Not a pretty sight.

      1. This guy was trying to ride one, they do that on the Ostrich farms in Oudtshoorn in the Cape, when it suddenly turned on him. Pecked him terribly and then gave him a kick the likes of which you’ve never seen. He was taken to hospital very badly injured but survived.

  9. Great photos! Wow!
    It does seem strange to raise them in captivity. I never really thought of ostriches as graceful until I saw your photos of them in the wild. They “fit” there.

    In the closeup it looks like he/she is wearing lipstick. πŸ™‚

    1. I love it that this whole head burying thing is not true, but we still repeat it after Pliny the Elder first said it in 73AD. Says a lot about the historical development of human knowledge! πŸ˜‰

  10. Great shots and amusing words. We met an Ostrich farmer in Portugal and these birds can pack a powerful kick if they wish. And do we really want to eat them. I think it has now gone out of fashion but saving them in the wild is so important. Enjoy more and post more!

    1. One subspecies is extinct, the red neck is “critically endangered” in the wild. There is no comparison to seeing them free on the plains of Africa, to seeing them in a corral at The Holler. They look entirely different. Prettier and happier.

    1. I know they do. Of course there is a Hollerite with an emu too, and of course I visited said emu, oh, and the neighbor too, of course. The emu struck me as not very bright, but I surely would not say that to his face! He would whomp me! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

  11. I love your beautiful, celebratory photos and reflections Cindy! “They are ballerina stepping, tutu wearing, high plains kickers! The Rockettes of South Africa! You go girls…..” Your work always makes me smile and appreciate the amazing wonders in the world. And I always learn something new. “Contrary to common belief, ostrich do not hide their head in the sand when scared. Pliny the Elder just made that up around 73AD.” Thank you for sharing your vision and humor πŸ™‚

  12. The ladies are lovely! We owned a couple of ostriches which were maintained on a friend’s farm. They were supposed to be a mating pair, but turned out to be two males. We were warned about their temperament – a good kick can kill you – so we never got close to them.

    1. My gosh! Did you see why I love blogging! You were an ostrich owner. I suppose if you got a female for them it might improve their moods, although I hear mating competition is a time when they are particularly testy. The thing I love most are the chicks. The females seem to cooperate raising them in these groups and they are sooooooo cute!

    1. Yes, they would definitely get your full attention. My brother went to turn on his sprinklers once and a 12 foot anaconda rasied his head above the faucet head. It got everyone’s attention, the dogs, the fireman, fish and game, and it got him in the newspaper too! This was in La Jolla of all places~

      1. I quit weeding in an area yesterday because one of the garden snakes which love my yard slithered by. I know they won’t hurt me but it is a primal fear. I think if I saw a 12 foot anaconda in my yard — I’d move to another city. πŸ˜€

  13. You’ve done it again Cindy a fabulous post with great photos and lots of information in easily digested blocks under each photo. Love the way you arrange your posts.

  14. Yep, certain grumpiness “grinchiness” about the face – that’s for sure – but oh, the splendour of the feather coat steal the day for me πŸ™‚

    1. Well, we were prudent, listened to the animals, and respected their spaces. I feel more unsafe hiking the back trails of yellowstone and seeing grizzly, then I ever felt in Africa.

    1. I think it was just an angle illusion of the shot. The ostrich was lowering her head and it appeared to disappear under the feathers of the bird in front of her!

  15. The talons on these birds are massive and deadly!

    The best visual representation of a carnivorous dinosaur ever, even though modern birds are still believed to descend from sauropods instead of the other suborders that resemble modern birds.

    1. Yes, I agree with you. Ostrich are omnivores eating some lizards, turtles, bugs etc, but they are mostly herbivores, perfering fruit and plants over meat. They, and all sub-types of herons make me instantaneously think “dinosaur” evertime I look at one closely!

  16. This was a fascinating post, Cindy! I am shocked at the abilities of these strange but beautiful birds. Your amazing photos and clever comments made this my favorite “read” of my day.

  17. Cindy, love the pictures and of course your commentary which always brings a smile to my face. Is Africa the photographer’s paradise? The closest I’ve ever gotten to live African animals is at the St. Louis zoo πŸ™‚

  18. Cindy, I just learned so much through you about the ostrich. I did not know, they grow this tall and weigh so much. The pictures are awesome. Thank you for sharing! Hugs! Veraiconica

  19. Absolutely incredible shots, Cindy! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Those openers are amazing! I’m smiling from ear to ear. And fancy me not being ostrich-like at all. I always thought we had so much in common! I’m exceptionally good at burying my head in the sand. πŸ™‚

    1. I was just over reading your ‘darkest day” and I wanted to send you love, had no words though, and couldn’t find where to leave a comment, and then you left this message. I’m going back to your blog. You are a remarkable person.

      1. Pauline says “Have you been chatting up the birds again, if I am late back from the beach or the gym.” But we have no worries if we leave the cage door open the bird will only fly if it is not happy.
        I should have paid you more of a complement for those great bird photos.
        Great is right when talking about them. They make the Aussie Emus look like chickens even the Cassowary is a wimp compared with them. The fastest two legged animal, with out a car. πŸ˜‰

      2. Now I know what Pauline means when she says Jack loves birds……..laughing! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I’m sure you do like them, but you also know you picked the best one, lucky man. She’s lucky in visa versa too though. You don’t ever need to compliment me. Your and Pauline’s friendship is the biggest compliment for me. <3

    1. Yes, in the not too distant past I know they had ostrich races. I think it’s a bit unkind though. Hope you are doing well my friend. I thought of you often this week. Remember this too shall pass, and at some point, it will barely be a memory! <3 <3

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    1. I know. The red necked ostrich is critically endangered in the wild. One subspecies is extinct. It is hard to imagine eating them especially in these circumstances.

  21. We saw only one ostrich when entering Kruger. The others we came upon were along the Cape Penisula outside of Cape Town. Yes, they are big. Best to use that telephoto lens!

  22. Thirty five years ago my (little) boys and I accompanied my (first) husband to a big zoo in Japan where one of the dojo members was employed. A half dozen or so other karate masters decided to visit with us, also. While there feeding time arrived. They decided it would be fun to feed the ostrich. Being masters of their discipline they were not concerned about a bird kicking (except for the guy who worked there). Of course the ostrich got loose. πŸ˜€ All of the karate masters were unable to catch the ostrich nor herd it back into the ostrich area. They ran in all directions, bumping into each other, dodging the ostrich, bowing polite excuse me to each other … πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ And they were all genuinely afraid of those bird-feet disemboweling kicks!!!

    1. Good for the ostrich. No one should antagonize these gorgeous birds and they need to be protected in the wild as they are now only seen in national parks and preserves. Pretty soon the only ostriches will be on meat farms. What a world…..

      1. Yes, we have the pink throats that are critically endangered in the wild, “living” on meat and egg farms. It would be like if we killed all the orcas in the wild, and only had them at sea world where they are abused.

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