Could I, a Human Man, Beat an Adult Ostrich in a Fight?
To answer such a nuanced question, we'll review physical factors that enhance fighting ability: Size, Speed, Stamina, and Strength.
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Could I Beat an Ostrich in a Fight?

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Let me tell you a story about the adventure that is my life: I was walking home the other day, and out of the clear blue sky a pigeon buzzes past my ear, trying to get to some seeds some old lady was chucking around the street. Just barrels past me, all flappy-like. A friggin’ pigeon.

This kamikaze bastard will literally crap on your car. He doesn’t give a damn

Needless to say, I had to assert my dominance, and so chased off the entire flock of pigeons. Then I knocked the seed bag from the old lady’s hand. Victory was mine.

I dedicated the battle to Marv from Home Alone 2, a fallen comrade of the pigeon wars

Obviously I gloated for several hours upon arriving home safely, and wondered aloud “can any beast from heaven or earth defeat me?” My girlfriend then named several large and medium-sized animals that could obliterate me. “Fine”, I retorted, conceding that I would lose a boxing match to a kangaroo, “but I would crush literally every bird species on Earth today”. “F*** birds!”, I added. My girlfriend’s quizzical/concerned look indicated that she agreed with my sentiment.

I then chopped a frozen chicken breast for 3 straight hours to iterate my point

After moving to a different room for some time, my girlfriend returned to state that she did not believe that I could defeat an ostrich in a fight. A grown ostrich, she clarified, after I said that I could simply smash it in egg form. The ensuing debate ignited a heated argument that lingers to this day. Several, actually, but only one that involves me fighting a bird, and not locked in another battle of the “Nothing You Say Makes Any Sense, You’re Such a Man-Child” war.

A war I’ve sparked several battles in by explaining how I could defeat a child in literally any athletic endeavour

After several weeks of fighting, I’ve decided to definitively answer once and for all: Could I defeat a grown ostrich in a fight?

To answer such a nuanced question, let’s examine some long-established physical factors that determine fighting ability: Size, Speed, Stamina, and Strength. I got these from the 1993 Gameboy game “King of the Ring”.

Most of what I know comes from professional wrestling

Some ground rules: I’ll be fighting this ostrich face to face. The ostrich will know we are fighting. I’ll be fighting a full-size male ostrich, presumably because his girlfriend told him he couldn’t beat a human male. I won’t use weaponry, because the obvious weapon would be too devastating. The obvious weapon is nunchucks, by the way. Ready? Let’s do this.

My soul is prepared, bird. Is yours?

Size:

I’m a leviathan of a man, standing nearly 6 feet in height. I am muscular and lithe, and weigh 200 lbs, if you round to the nearest hundred. I’m therefore above the average height and average weight of a Canadian man. I am truly an elite specimen.

Here I am, taking care of the lady with the bird seed

An average male ostrich stands between…7 and 9 feet…and weighs around 250 pounds…with a wingspan of about 7 feet. Holy hell, that’s a big bird. You wouldn’t think a flappy-ass bird could weigh so much, but unlike flying birds, flightless birds (or ratites) have heavy, solid bones, because why fly when you already stand in the sky?

The ostrich emasculates his human prey by having its junk at eye-level

Winner: Ostrich

Speed:

Unfortunately, this one is going to be lopsided. Ostriches have legs taller than me, while I run at a speed that can be best described as “penguin-esque”.

And not one of those penguins with the boss racing stripes on its head. The regular, waddily kind

The average ostrich can get up to speeds near 70 km/h out in the open, which is faster than Usain Bolt’s 30 km/h, and much faster than the 10-15 km/h that an average man runs. It’s also a hell of a lot faster than me. Here’s a video of an ostrich outsprinting a football player.

Sports Science:  Dennis Northcutt Vs. Ostrich
On the plus side, I don’t look nearly as ridiculous when I run

Winner: Ostrich

Stamina

This one will also not go well for me. I was built more for short bursts of pure, raw, masculine power, like when I open a bag of Doritos. I generally tire quickly, and after an entire bag of Zesty Cheese, I’m ready for a nap. The ostrich, on the other hand, can run at top speed for miles, because their joints have over twice the elastic power as humans, meaning they bound along like biological springs, kind of like Tigger.

This was determined by fitting an ostrich with a light suit, which is hilarious

Fun fact: searching for “average stamina for a man” absolutely does not bring up articles about running.

Winner: Ostrich

So far, this is going horribly for me, but there’s still hope. I have one great equalizer that will help me even the odds…

Strength:

Right? Like honestly, it’s a goddamn bird, what does it matter if it’s bigger, faster, and has better endurance than me? I’ll just grab that bastard’s skinny neck and choke it to death with my extreme upper body strength, fueled by so many Dorito bag openings.

I do four sets of Tangy Cheese, followed by two sets of Chili Heatwave

It’s hard to compare generic terms like “strength”, but it says here that the “average man” can benchpress 135 lbs and squat 125 lbs. This site, which is actually nicely transparent about their metric calculations, tells me that I’m stronger than 66% of male “lifters” in my weight category. Which is…pretty good, actually. I’m the best, minus about 34% of other guys. Imma f* this bird right up.

The internet says I’m super strong. No need for further verification!

An ostrich has wings instead of arms, so I automatically win the bicep curl. National Geographic tells me ostrich legs are super strong, though, and they can glide up to 16 feet in a single bound. They’re also powerful enough to kill a lion with a single kick…or a human. It actually says that right there in the article. And they kick forward. Which means if an ostrich was intent on killing me, it could probably kick me to death, unless I scrambled behind it and choked it, which I probably couldn’t do because it’s too tall and too fast…

…Which means I would probably lose a fight to an ostrich.

Winner: Ostrich

I’ll never let my girlfriend see this post.

F*** birds.

Dan has gone to scream at birds at the zoo. Email him at info [at] scienceeverywhere.ca to see a topic covered here.

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