Group-size effect on scanning behaviour of Maasai Ostrich Struthio camelus massaicus
Scanning behaviour enables birds to collect information important for their survival, such as detecting predators (anti-predatory strategy) and searching for food. The scanning behaviour of the Common Ostrich Struthio camelus was investigated by determining the scanning duration (total seconds during 5-min periods that a bird’s head was raised) and scanning rate (number of times an individual raised its head per minute) among different group sizes in late 2006 in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. A total of 14 males and 20 females were observed. Scanning duration was a function of group size where individuals in small groups scanned for longer times than individuals in large groups. However, increasing group size did not have a significant effect on the scanning rate among the groups. Individual vigilance among ostriches is influenced by group size, whereas individual scanning rate may be influenced by factors other than group size, such as body size and habitat type. Higher scanning duration in small groups is attributed to anti-predatory behaviour.