Welcome to the March 2004 On-Line Edition of

St George's News

Waterlooville's Parish Magazine


If we were to decide to take a holiday touring Africa, it is very likely that we should see a live Ostrich. In fact, we would see a small party of them altogether, as they are very wary and difficult to approach, and are usually only seen in groups of three or more. Their beautiful plumage of black and white feathers made them a prime target for hunters, using high-powered rifles from fast motor vehicles, and so were driven almost to the point of extinction. In the Music Halls of a century or two ago, dancers would perform with large fans made of ostrich feathers, and we have all been impressed by gorgeously attired black slaves in exotic film scenes, waving soft fronds over the heads of noble and important kings and princes. Hats, too, were trimmed with large swathes of the feathered covering of some poor hunted ostrich bird. Film stars have made their name from wearing dashing hats and huge gauntlet gloves, with high leather boots to match, to thrill cinema audiences in Odeon and Gaumont venues everywhere.

It is sometimes mistakenly believed that Ostriches live in Australia, but this is not true, and usually means it has been confused with the Emu, which is indeed widespread in Australia, being second only in size to the Ostrich. An Emu stands six feet tall, and weighs 100 lbs, whereas the Ostrich stands eight feet tall, and weighs more than 300 lbs. Neither of these birds can fly, but can travel very fast indeed by running along the ground. The Ostrich is the largest non-flying bird in the world, whereas the Condor of South America is the largest flying bird, with a wing-span of nine to ten feet. Ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand, as is popularly believed.

Rosemary Goulding

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