Birds’ ability to fly are attributed to the design of their skeletons. Hollow bones, in particular, are these unique adaptations that enable flying ability. However, not all aviary species have these bones.
Ostriches are part of these flightless birds. If you’re wondering, does an ostrich have hollow bones? In fact, they do.
They have hollow femurs that help them run fast. However, they don’t have hollow ones that help with flight. Ostrich bones are mostly solid. Unlike birds such as eagles, ravens, and hummingbirds, they don’t have space for air.
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What Are Hollow Bones?
Hollow bones are bones with spaces in them. Visually, some of them are cross-sections of the bones that look like a sponge. These hollow bones have air sacs attached to them to allow air to pass through.
So, why do birds have hollow bones? Such a bone structure increases the intake of oxygen for birds as they fly. It also makes for better blood circulation.
Some species of birds have more hollow bones to help them reach far distances and support their weight as they fly and hunt. Examples of these are large and gliding birds like hawks and eagles.
Meanwhile, some species have fewer hollow bones. They require more solid and denser bones for moving across the ground, like ostriches and flamingos.
Ostrich Body Structure
An ostrich’s skeleton may seem strange compared to other birds. With its big body, thin neck, and thin legs, one may wonder how they can move around efficiently.
You may ask, “are ostrich bones hollow?” An ostrich leg anatomy reveals solid bones without spaces or air sacs. The dense quality supports a grounded lifestyle, enabling them to run up to 40 mph fast. In a single stride, an ostrich can cover up to 16 feet.
Upon closer look, an ostrich has only two toes on each foot. A large nail on its inner toe also looks like a hoof. This enables it to gather or hunt food, such as small animals, insects, fruits and legumes, and leafy plants.
Apart from the lack of hollow bones to support flight ability, an ostrich doesn’t have a keel. A keel supports a breastbone unique to birds that can fly. For an ostrich, this chest muscle is weaker and thinner.
Do Hollow Bones Make Birds Lighter Than Other Same-sized Animals?
While this type of bone structure has spaces between them, it doesn’t mean they are lighter than the bones of other animals.
For example, you may think a bird weighing two ounces is lighter than a mouse or other small animal of the same size. However, the bird is actually heavier. This is due to the density of a bird’s skeleton. They must be stiff and sturdy to help the bird fly and avoid breakage,, especially when navigating harsh winds.
Does an ostrich have hollow bones? Yes, but mostly on their femurs. They don’t have hollow bones that help them with flight. That’s why, their bones are solid and denser around the leg areas to help them move around. Given that they are also prey, they need to run fast to escape predators and other threats.
Bird bones are hollow, but this doesn’t make them lighter or fragile. The more dense they are, the stronger they get to avoid breaking all the time.
George and I became friends after a birdwatching trip with our new group. And we have been enjoying every adventure together. When he told me the idea of establishing a site that shares our experiences and fun, I immediately agreed. After trials and errors, here we have Thayerbirding.