by Bea Lueck, Editor-in-Chief

Have you ever driven the long stretch of highway to Tucson, and wondered about the unexpected place in Picacho called Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch? Well, one day, make it your destination. What you will find is simply amazing!

This family-operated business is located just off I-10 and Picacho Peak Road, at the base of Picacho Peak. And as the name implies, you will find ostriches – lots of ostriches. But, there is more to experience than you might expect. Get the whole package for feeding the various critters – and the monster truck tour too! Our visit included our 4-year-old granddaughter as well as grandpa, and both were kept entertained for several hours.

The ranch is on summer hours and open Friday through Monday until November 15. With the heat, go at 9 a.m. when they open. It is recommended to wear a hat and sunscreen. A snack area has beverages available to purchase. The monster truck tour is only on Saturday and Sunday. Space is limited, and you will be called by your ticket color for boarding. Our driver was an amazing tour guide – GIRL POWER! Yes, a petite young woman was our monster truck driver!

Avoid stopping in the gift shop on your way out to the farm area. Carrying the various food is difficult and requires two hands. Plan on visiting the gift shop on the way out instead!

Outside, you will find a wide assortment of animals to feed, pet and photograph, including miniature donkeys, fallow deer, parakeets, goats, rabbits, sheep and ducks. Each has a special diet found in your feed cups, and they eagerly await visitors. The squeals of enjoyment as the animals nibble and lick the food from your hand is amusing coming from the adults and delightful coming from the children.

One surprise I didn’t mention – the lorikeets. Step inside the lorikeet aviary carrying your cup of nectar and you will be instantly targeted by several of the birds in search of a meal. Everyone was amazed at the colorful birds landing on visitors. It’s magical – just like Cinderella and the bluebirds!

And of course, there are the ostriches. Ostriches are really BIG birds! And when you climb atop the viewing platform, you are eye-to-eye with these giant prehistoric, flightless birds. Standing taller than the average man at up to 9 feet in height, these birds can weigh as much as 350 pounds. Capable of killing lions with a kick and the sharp nails on their feet, ostriches are also able to reach speeds up to 40 mph, and can run for sustained periods of time.

Signs warned that the ostriches can bite. I found this out when one reached out and grabbed my cup of alfalfa pellets right out of my hands. So much for feeding a little at a time! It was more of a few-seconds feeding-frenzy.

On the way out, you will find the stingray tank, where they gracefully swim up for their piece of calamari. I’ve been to several attractions with feeding tanks. This is the first where they came up to you and stayed for several seconds at a time.

Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Ranch is an entertaining and affordable place to spend a few hours. It’s perfect for children and adults. Consider it when family visits. It’s worthy of a bucket-list stop.