Ostriches Do Not Really Stick Their Heads in the Sand

Originally published here: https://mcgill.ca/oss/article/did-you-know/ostriches-do-not-really-stick-their-heads-sand

Despite popular misconception, ostriches do not stick their heads in the sand. This myth originated in ancient Romeand is so pervasive that it’s used as a common metaphor for someone avoiding their problems. It’s thought that this belief began after observing ostriches nesting and being stalked by predators. First, it must be noted that as majestic as Ostriches are, they have very small headscompared to their bodies, so it’s perhaps easy to see why so many people believed their heads were simply disappearing underground. Furthermore, these birds do not build nestslike other fowls, choosing instead to bury their eggs in a hole in the sand. They routinely use their beaks to check on and turn their eggs, which may give the impression of sticking their heads right into the dirt. Last, when faced with danger, ostriches will lower their heads to the ground in an attempt to blend into their surroundings and becoming a lesser target, a behaviour that surely fooled more than one person into thinking their heads weren’t there at all.

If you’d like to learn more about ostriches, check out this Animal Planet documentary!


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