While driving along Highway 246 in Buellton you’ll notice a strange sight — ostriches!
Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Here, in the middle of Santa Barbara wine country, is Ostrich Land USA. It’s a unique roadside attraction where you can get up close to more than 50 ostriches and emus.
Entrance costs $4 (it’s $1 for visitors 12 years old and younger). Be sure to pay an extra dollar to get a pan of food — feeding the ostriches and emus is what makes the experience.
When you see ostriches at a zoo or on TV you know that they’re big. But they look huge when they’re just inches away from you. They stare right at you with their large eyes, especially when you’re walking up with food. I must say, it’s pretty intimidating! I thought at any moment they could take me out with one swift movement of their long neck.
You feed the ostriches food pellets from a plastic bowl attached to a dustpan. The ostriches peck at the pellets with such force that their beaks make a loud noise against the bowl.
It’s not until you start feeding the ostriches that you realize how many there are. All of a sudden you’ll see an ostrich or two come out from behind a bush 30 yards away, their eyes focused on your bowl of food. In the distance you’ll spot small groups roaming around.
Though you’ll see the ostriches first, be sure to save some food for the emus. Smaller and less intimidating than the ostriches, these cute little guys love getting food too.
When I visited Ostrich Land last week I got to see several baby emus. At their young age they already knew that people equal food. They followed me from one side of their pen to the other and were very curious about me and my camera (which made for a great picture).
Don’t worry about your new ostrich friends — the birds are not raised for meat (though Ostrich Land does sell ostrich meat). Only their eggs are harvested, which are large enough to feed a big family. Each ostrich egg is the equivalent of two dozen chicken eggs. That would make one giant omelet!
On your way out, be sure to peruse the gift shop where you can buy all sorts of ostrich and emu related products, including ostrich feather dusters, emu oil and ostrich jerkey. If you’re feeling adventurous (and hungry), you can even buy a fresh ostrich egg. Ostrich Land also sells ostrich and emu eggshells that have been sanitized.
For more information on Ostrich Land USA visit www.ostrichlandusa.com.