portrait of The Inquisitive Ostrich

Monday, September 7, 2020

thoughts from The Inquisitive Ostrich

About five weeks ago, I began sharing an important duty: attending to our communal nest of eggs. And today, I'm celebrating Day #10 of watching these little creatures explore our world!

The chicks can already walk and run with sure-footed balance and agility. They’re getting faster and stronger each day. Although I’ve missed several track practices recently with priority given to parenting duties, Coach and I have communicated often. Coach has their eye on the chicks and is eager to recruit fresh fast legs to the team!

Just after sunrise, I sit and watch the chicks wander around, peck at the ground, and take curious glances toward the horizon. As they move from one tuft of plants to a collection of tasty bugs, their camouflaged bodies bounce gently. Their gray-brown down is spiky and stiff. With their long necks and spiky down, the chicks remind me of tall plants uncoiling their leaves at the start of the growing season. I care for and watch over these tiny creatures with an attentiveness previously unfamiliar to me. I admire the spots on the fronts of their necks, their big inquisitive eyes, their beaks eager to taste our landscape, and the tufts of rusty-colored down on the tops of their heads. I know they will grow fast, so today I choose to soak up the present.

In my daydreaming, I neglected to notice the storm that is quickly gathering speed. The winds pick up and ruffle my feathers. The air carries the thickness of a storm. And the flighted birds have taken shelter in the distance. Today’s parenting test has begun.

The chicks flock to me and my partner. Their intuition is strong, so they know to seek shelter from us. My wings spread wide as I crouch to the ground, and the chicks efficiently huddle beneath. I peer under to get one last glimpse of those fuzzy heads and then hunker down as lightning bolts fly through the sky and rain erupts from above. We’ve weathered these storms before, but it’s different now. I can tell my partner is feeling the difference as well. They look to the horizon with anticipation, they shake off rain often to see more clearly, and I sense a new cautiousness that has come with the hatching of these chicks.

Suddenly, something catches my eye. My partner notices as my body tenses and my eyes focus on the distance. I consider my situation. I have several vulnerable chicks under my wings, and my partner protects the others. But there’s danger approaching. It moves with an irregular pattern. Moving along the land, I assume its head is down and poised for attack. My stress level heightens. I look to my partner, and we agree I will chase it away when it gets closer. Meanwhile, they will huddle the additional chicks. With a plan in place, I feel calm and ready. The wind picks up and the mystery threat moves more quickly toward us. I jump into action! Wings wide. Face forward. Ready to charge this creature away. But then my partner bursts out with a loud chuckle. “What a relief”, they laugh, “it’s one of the chicks that got tangled in the weeds and has finally stumbled its way to us!” I settle back down over the cozy chicks and we laugh through the rest of the storm!

Bradford, Alina. “Ostrich Facts: The World’s Largest Bird | Live Science,” September 17, 2014. https://www.livescience.com/27433-ostriches.html.

NikelaWildlife. Watch These Baby Ostriches Run! They’re Not Too Smart Though, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuQhU5lZ750.