The ostrich lays the largest egg of any bird, yet it is the smallest egg compared to the bird’s body weight. A male ostrich will mate with several females in the group, but only the dominant female will incubate the eggs, including those of the other females. However, she keeps track of which eggs are not hers and may sacrifice them to predators to keep her own eggs safe. Unattended eggs are vulnerable to predators like jackals and vultures, both of which have evolved strategies to break the sturdy eggs. Jackals will roll them against each other until they break, while some vultures may drops stones on the eggs to crack them. When the chicks hatch the male takes care of them and may even fight off other males to “adopt” their chicks to give his own a better chance of survival.
Photo credit: Lee Slabber