Approved by Dr. Paola Cuevas

You may have heard the insult “bird brain” used to describe someone who may not be making wise life choices at a given moment. But do all birds have small brains, even the largest of all birds, the ostrich? Well, as it turns out, an ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain!

In this article, we’ll help you see (get it?) the facts about an ostrich’s eye and brain size and how they compare to other animals. We’ll also cover some other fascinating information about these extraordinary birds.


Seeing Is Believing: All About Ostrich Eyes

Not only is the ostrich’s eye bigger than its brain, but they also possess the largest eyes of any bird. Their eyes are about 2 inches in diameter, the size of a pool ball. This makes them five times larger than human eyes.

Those huge eyes aren’t just for show either—ostriches have fantastic vision. The birds can see for long distances, thanks to their height and sharp eyes, allowing them to spot predators before they get too close.

Masai Ostrich
Image Credit: Dr. Arjay Kumar Singh, Shutterstock

Knowledge Is Power: The Ostrich Brain

Overall, birds tend to have smaller brains than mammals of a similar size, hence the expression we mentioned in the introduction. But does the ostrich have an unusually small brain or just extra-large eyes?

A study from 2008 did suggest that an ostrich’s brain is slightly underdeveloped as compared to the brains of a duck, goose, and stork. Ostrich brains are about 1.5 inches wide, according to the study. They are also about 17 times lighter than the brains of the three other species on average.

Compared to their body weight, the brain of the ostrich weighed less when compared to the brain-to-body weight ratio of the other birds.

While the ostrich’s brain may be slightly small, their eyes are significantly larger compared to other creatures, suggesting that it’s the eyes that are of unusual size.divider-bird

Other Fun Facts about the Ostrich

Somali Ostrich
Image Credit: Papa Bravo, Shutterstock

Now that you can wow your friends with your knowledge of the ostrich’s eye size, check out some additional amazing facts about these birds.

1. Ostriches can run over 40 miles per hour.

Ostriches are one of the fastest creatures on earth. Because their size keeps them from flying, the only way they can escape predators is by running. An ostrich’s stride can stretch 10-16 feet, and they can run as fast as 43 miles per hour.

2. Only dinosaurs laid larger eggs than ostriches.

Ostriches lay the biggest eggs in the modern world, dwarfed only by dinosaur eggs. Their eggs average 6 inches in length and weigh about 3 pounds. Just one of these eggs contains a whooping 2,000 calories!

3. Ostriches can kick hard enough to kill.

If an ostrich doesn’t manage to outrun a predator, they definitely aren’t powerless to fight back if cornered. Ostriches can kick hard enough to kill the unlucky lion or cheetah trying to turn them into dinner. Not only are their legs strong, but each of the ostrich’s feet is also armed with a long, sharp claw.

4. Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand.

Despite the popular saying, ostriches don’t actually bury their heads in the sand to escape danger. This myth probably sprang from an actual defense mechanism, however.

If the ostrich feels the need to hide from predators, it will lie on the ground, stretching its neck out flat. Because the bird’s feather coloring is similar to their sandy habitat, their head and neck can blend in and make it appear they are buried in the sand.divider-birds


With their large size, speed, and inability to fly, ostriches are truly unique members of the bird kingdom.  Yes, their eyes are bigger than their brains, but they are also special in many other ways. We hope you enjoyed learning more about the ostrich and its many talents in this article.

Featured Image Credit: Svetla Ilieva, Shutterstock