Ugly Chicks

 Posted by at 12:30 am  Nick's Blog
Mar 192011

I spent some time yesterday hanging out with ugly chicks. Really ugly chicks! Uglier than the “ladies” in the Cactus Queen beauty contest at our RV rally last week.

Now, before you start calling me an insensitive jerk, and telling me that beauty is only skin deep, or asking if I have looked in a mirror lately,  I have to tell you that these were really, really ugly chicks! How ugly were they? Just take a look!

Osterich Face 2 

Osterich Face 3

If you have never been to the Rooster Coburn Ostrich Ranch, which is located a few miles north of Tucson in the shadow of historic Picacho Peak, you really should stop the next time you’re driving by on Interstate 10. It’s quite an experience.

We had driven past this unique attraction for years before we finally stopped a couple of years ago, and were fascinated by these huge birds that nobody could ever call handsome. The place is a family operation, and the patriarch’s name really is Rooster Cogburn. The family operated a commercial ostrich ranch for years in Oklahoma, before relocating to Arizona, where the climate is much better for their birds.

In case you are not familiar with ostrich ranching, the meat of the ostrich is delicious, low in cholesterol, and served  every way from steaks to burgers to jerky. Ostrich eggs make wonderful, fluffy omelets, and one of their large eggs is equivalent to two dozen chicken eggs.

Osterich egg nest

The Ostrich Ranch is a great place to take kids. In addition to ostriches, they also have miniature deer, a herd of goats who make up the Hole in the Wall Gang and poke their heads through openings to beg for treats, and miniature donkeys. Visitors receive a cup of dried food, which the ostriches, deer, goats, and a collection of miniature donkeys eagerly consume.

Hole in Wall

Kids feeding deer

Here is my buddy Greg White, one old goat feeding a younger one!

Greg goats

No, that’s not a two headed goat, just two goats sharing the same hole, impatiently waiting for a treat.

Two headed goat

There is also a walk-in aviary, where you can feed a flock of colorful lorikeets. Native to Australia, these beautiful parrots will swarm on anybody holding a cup of the nectar they feed on.


Jan White is holding five of them in this photo, while several others wait nearby for their chance to feed.

Jan birds

But the main attraction is the ostriches, and they line up at the fence, waiting to be fed.

Osterich herd 2

There are two ways to feed an ostrich, either by putting the food into the shallow pans provided, or by allowing them to eat the food right from your hand. Yes, ostriches bite, and even though they have no teeth, you will know it when one gets hold of your fingers. Our friend Jeanne Sparks drove down from Casa Grande to meet up with us, and here she is demonstrating her own style of ostrich feeding on the fly!

Jeanne Feeding

After we had fed all the critters, we took the Monster Truck tour, climbing aboard a huge truck driven by Rooster’s daughter, Danna. The tour took us out through the back side of the ranch, where we saw ostriches breeding, learned more about the birds, and stopped to admire this saguaro cactus nicknamed the Three Amigos.

Tour truck 3

Three amigos

Danna passed around ostrich eggs for everybody to examine, as well as an ostrich feather duster, and this dead rattlesnake, to show us some of the local wildlife.


I could have gone a long time without getting that close to a rattler! If there is anything I fear more than driving over high bridges, it’s snakes! Danna told us that if we encounter a rattlesnake in the wild, to stop and freeze until we spot it, and then slowly back away. Apparently my technique of screaming like a girl and retreating with my arms flying is not the correct procedure.

Danna said that snakes are just as afraid of us as we are of them, but I don’t believe that, because if they did, they’d carry guns, too! I have spent a lot of time hiking, hunting, and photographing in the desert, and I have come across more than my fair share of rattlers, but not one of them has ever peed its pants. So much for them being more afraid than I am!

At the end of our tour, we went ostrich fishing, using wooden poles with chunks of grapefruit on the end. Danna said if we caught one, we could keep it, so I was just as glad there were no hooks on the end of our lines!

Ostrich fishing

Ostrich fishing 2

Here is a picture Danna took of the four of us on the “fishing dock.”

Nick Terry Jan Greg Ostrich Fishing

We had worked up an appetite by the time we left the Ostrich Ranch, so we drove back to Tucson for lunch at Lucky Wishbone, another longtime favorite restaurant of mine. Since they didn’t offer ostrich burgers, I settled for their delicious steak fingers.

From there, we stopped to visit my cousin Beverly, where Greg and I promptly fell asleep sitting on her sofa. I wonder if he was dreaming about ugly chicks too?

Thought For The Day – I’m not a complete idiot –some parts are missing.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  10 Responses to “Ugly Chicks”

  1. We’ve got to get the Whites and the Russells separated from each other so I can go back to reading two different blogs each morning.

  2. It truly sounds like you guys had a great wildlife adventure. Loved the photos! Will have to add the Ostrich Ranch to our “future see” list.

  3. We visited the Ostrich Ranch during our stay in Tucson back in 2009. We loved it. And the lorikeets were so very cute. Thanks for jogging good memories.

  4. I had been avoiding traveling to Tucson ’cause then we’d have to visit our jerk brother-in-law, but NOW I have real motivation. Thank you for traveling about and finding all these cool things! I wish we’d received our copy of the Gypsy Journal while still in Florida now that I see things we missed. It is so good to be camping again in our little R-Pod and can’t wait until summer comes and we can get out some more!

  5. Thanks for the memories, we visited the ranch a few years ago, I learned not to turn my back on those critters, they bite, and it hurts, they have added the goat barn since we were there. The deer were the sweetest things, the birds they are greedy. We loved learning about the Ostrich even though we did not take the tour. If and when we get back to Tuscon we will have to go back.

  6. Wow we passed this so many time and never stopped. Didn’t know there was so much to see. Now I’ll add it to my to do list for the next time we are in Tucson or Casa Grand.

  7. Looks like you had a fantastic day. We could sure use some of that sunshine here! LOL When ya gonna get to the Southeast? I’d love to know about good RVing sites and of course restaurants in the good ole South!

  8. Mike and Cindy,
    Our current issue (March-April) is all about places we explored in Florida, and the previous issue (January-February) included stories on the Chesapeake Bay area of Virginia and Yorktown.

  9. I’m signed and paid up for the Gypsy Journal so I’ll be watching for it! Glad to hear you travel in the south some. By the way, love to find some great places in TN, GA, AL also! Thanks y’all.

  10. Awww, you managed to make me homesick Nick! And I’ve never been to the Ostrich Ranch., so now I have a reason to linger next time we’re through. Have you ever been to Saguaro Corners for dinner? You look out the window and watch deer and javelina and such having their dinner right in front of you! (Hope it’s still open anyway!) Out on Spanish Trail (east side)…
    Also, glad you found the ONLY good rattlesnake( Imho)!

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