Monday, May 20, 2013

Animal Sex: How Ostriches Do It

To attract a female, a male ostrich (shown on right wooing a female) will do a little dance in which he crouches down and alternates bringing his black-and-white wings forward, one after the other.

  

As the largest and fastest flightless birds around, ostriches are one of the most recognizable bird species on the planet. But their physical stature isn't the only interesting thing about these birds — their reproductive behavior is also quite peculiar.

The common ostrich (Struthio camelus) has a lengthy breeding season that stretches from March or April to September. Ostriches don't sport flashy new feathers during this time as some other species do, but the males' necks and legs do become flushed with blood and look redder, said Matthew Evans, a behavioral ecologist at Queen Mary, University of London.

The mating strategies among the different subspecies are similar, though specifics may vary. Typically, males will defend their own small territory from their rivals, while groups of females will roam around, visiting potential mates. In a single season, males will mate with multiple females, and females will mate with multiple males.

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