Contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not actually bury their heads in the sand. The ostrich, also known as Struthio camelus, is the largest type of bird in the world, often weighing more than 400 pounds (181.4 kg), and as tall as 8.9 feet (2.7 meters). It is a flightless bird, and is native to Africa. It is related to other large flightless birds, such as the emu.
According to legends, ostriches have a tendency to bury their heads in the sand as a way to avoid danger, but there is no scientific evidence to show that this is true. Some believe that the idea comes from the fact that ostriches ingest sand and pebbles, which help them swallow their food; people may have noticed them picking up pebbles in their mouths and believed that the ostriches were burying their heads instead.
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Another possible source of the idea could be the scientific fact that, when threatened, the ostrich will fall forward in the sand and lay its head to the ground, so that its body will resemble a bush to passing predators. This action is especially common when the ostrich is attempting to protect its eggs. Because the head and neck are the same color as the sand, to an observer, it may look as though the ostriches bury their heads in the sand.
Today, people are often said to bury their heads in the sand when they refuse to confront or deal with a problem, and choose to deny it. The saying comes from the belief about ostriches, which was first recorded by Roman writer Pliny the Elder. Now that we know ostriches do not actually do this, perhaps the phrase should be corrected. Ostriches are not as stupid as people seem to think.