Family Ostriches (Struthionidae)


Somali Ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes)


French: Autruche de Somalie German: Somalistrauß Spanish: Avestruz somalí

Struthio molybdophanes


, 1883,



Long considered conspecific with S. camelus, but since turn of century commonly given species status, and this view accepted here on basis of strong grey-blue vs pink, reddish or pinkish-grey neck and legs (3); deeper black plumage (1); black scutes on lower tarsi (1); pale brownish-grey (or greyish-blue in female) vs dark brown eye (1); bare crown with raised horny hump (2); parapatric distribution with nominate camelus in Ethiopia#R and evidently virtually so with massaicus in Kenya#R#R (3). Genetic study#R also strongly supports this separation. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

S & SE Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia S to N & E Kenya.

Descriptive notes

Unmistakable, the two ostriches are the largest bird species; wholly terrestrial, flightless. Male larger than female (see Common Ostrich) but species-specific biometrics not... read more


No specific information. Likely to resemble Common Ostrich.


Inhabits arid and semi-arid grasslands, thornbush and open woodlands. Does not require standing... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly herbivorous, taking grasses, seeds and leaves; succulent plants very important in drier areas. Also eats some insects and small... read more


Season variable. In N Kenya breeding reported during January–March and also in July–August.  Breeding behaviour as in Common... read more


Apparently sedentary or nomadic, depending on habitat, as S. camelus. In dry seasons or... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. Range includes Kenya, Somalia, Djibuti and Ethiopia. Rare in Eritrea. Population size unknown but suspected to be undergoing a rapid decline due to hunting for... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2018). Somali Ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 18 October 2018).