If I want to see an Ostrich I only have to take a ten minute drive from home.
Now before all you Australian twitchers out there jump in your car or on a plane to “tick” this species off your list, let me explain. The Ostriches I’m talking about are in the Monarto Zoo just down the road from Murray Bridge in South Australia. They have a thriving collection of Ostriches as part of their displays of African animals. Visitors can walk down the hill from the Visitor Centre and get a close look through the fence. You also get excellent views as you do the bus tour of the zoo.
Many people would not know that there have been several feral populations of Ostriches in Australia over the last hundred years or so. One such population existed near Port Augusta in the far north. They had been “farmed” for their feathers on a sheep and cattle station there in the late 1800s. A remnant feral population has existed in this region ever since, though their numbers were never more than a few dozen at best. Even though I lived in Port Augusta in the 1970s for ten years, I never managed to see even one.
Other ostrich farms existed in other states and several in the Coorong region of South Australia where a feral population existed for some time. None survive in that area today. A recent correspondent on the Birding-Aus forum lived in Port Augusta in the 1990s and he suggested that the feral population there was captured for sale. At the time Ostrich farming had a sudden but short resurgence. He was of the opinion that a small remnant population still exists in that region. There have been no recorded sightings to my knowledge in the last decade. CORRECTION: There was a report today on Birding -Aus of a sighting of a pair with 9 chicks (May 17th 2009) on Mt Arden Station near Port Augusta. (Note: there is no access to this area for birders.)
- Birds of Monarto Zoo – plus information about the zoo
UPDATE: Would all readers please note – I am not in the business of breeding and selling birds, Ostriches included. This is a blog about Australian birds in the wild.