I still can't believe we found this place. On my way to Santa Barbara with Brandon and my brother Josh, we planned to stop by Solvang, the adorable Dutch town in the mountains about 45 minutes away. But passing this sign for Ostrich Land USA, we did a hard double-take. A place to feed real ostriches?? Heck yeah! Solvang could wait.
It's hard to convey how large ostriches are. Up close, they don't look real. Standing between 6 and 9 feet tall, they look like giant animatronic muppets, with long beautiful eyelashes I'm super jealous of. Even their movements are jerky, like robots, and their eyes are comically large, double the size of golf balls. We could tell the females (brown) apart from the males (black/white) by their feather color.
For a surprisingly small $5 entrance fee, and $1 per pan of dry food, we fed these dinosaurs for a good hour. At first, we were like, "This will be quick. How fun could it be to feed an ostrich?" Turns out, SO FUN. We kept running back into the shop, throwing dollar bills toward the welcome desk, and running out with new pans of food.
The best part was how the birds eat. Because they don't have teeth or lips, ostriches and emus peck down into the pellets, then throw their heads back to send the pellets flying to the backs of their throats before swallowing. No flavor, no problem.
The emus, kept in separate enclosures from the other birds, are even weirder than the ostriches. Their ear and nose holes have no protective coverings, so sometimes when they would throw their heads back to swallow the food, the pellets would go into the holes and the emus would start freaking out and sneezing. Trippy to watch.
The emus remind me of snakes, with their long necks, bobbing heads, and quick movements.
Funny story, Brandon and I bought matching shirts while in Brugge, Belgium last summer because we stayed an extra day in Brugge and ran out of clean clothes to wear. Gotta make memories as they happen!
Adorable illustrated calendar from Paper Source that sits on my desk at home.
Let's continue on our road trip down the Central Coast to Santa Barbara: