The Ostrich

Modern observation, and especially Ostrich farming, has thoroughly

exploded the old errors respecting this bird. We believe in its powers

of swallowing anything not too large, but not in its digesting

everything, and certainly not, as Muenster would fain have us believe,

that an Ostrich's dinner consists of a church-door key, and a

horse-shoe. As matters of fact, we know that, when pursued, they do not

bury their heads
in the sand, or a bush; and instead of covering their

eggs with sand, and leaving the sun to hatch them, both the male and

female are excellent, and model parents.

Pliny, however, says differently:--"This bird exceeds in height a man

sitting on horseback, and can surpass him in swiftness, as wings have

been given to aid it in running; in other respects Ostriches cannot be

considered as birds, and do not raise themselves from the earth. They

have cloven talons, very similar to the hoof of the stag (they have but

two toes); with these they fight, and they also employ them in seizing

stones for the purpose of throwing at those who pursue them. They have

the marvellous property of being able to digest every substance without

distinction, but their stupidity is no less remarkable: for although the

rest of their body is so large, they imagine when they have thrust their

head and neck into a bush, that the whole body is concealed."

Giovanni Leone Africano writes that "this fowle liveth in drie desarts

and layeth to the number of ten or twelve egges in the sand, which being

about the bignesse of great bullets weigh fifteen pounds a piece; but

the ostrich is of so weak a memorie, that she presently forgetteth the

place where her egges were laid, and, afterwards the same, or some other

ostrich hen finding the said eggs by chance hatched and fostereth them

as if they were certainely her owne. The chickens are no sooner crept

out of the shell but they prowle up and downe the desarts for their

food, and before theyr feathers be growne they are so swifte that a man

shall hardly overtake them. The ostrich is a silly and deafe creature,

feeding upon any thing which it findeth, be it as hard and indigestible

as yron."