Note: the phrase has two meanings:
1. to ignore or hide from obvious signs of danger. Alludes to an ostrich, which is believed incorrectly to hide its head in a hole in the ground when it sees danger.
2. to refuse to think about an unpleasant situation, hoping that it will improve so that you will not have to deal with it.
Just like the boiling frog, it was wide spread for a long time, but in fact if the ostrich sense danger, the first reaction is running away with the speed of more than 72.8km per hour.
Refuse to confront or acknowledge a problem.
This comes from the supposed habit of ostriches hiding when faced with attack by predators. The story was first recorded by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder, who suggested that ostriches hide their heads in bushes. Ostriches don’t hide, either in bushes or sand, although they do sometimes lie on the ground to make themselves inconspicuous. The ‘burying their head in the sand’ myth is likely to have originated from people observing them lowering their heads when feeding.
The story also relies on the supposed stupidity of ostriches, and of birds in general. In fact, there’s little to support that either as birds have a significantly larger brain to weight ratio than many other species of animal. The notion is that the supposedly dumb ostrich believes that if it can’t see its attacker then the attacker can’t see it. This was nicely reformed as a joke on Douglas Adams’ ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, in which the ‘Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal’ was described as ‘so mind-bogglingly stupid that it assumes that if you can’t see it, then it can’t see you.’
Contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not bury their heads in sand to avoid danger. This myth likely began with Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79), who wrote that ostriches “imagine, when they have thrust their head and neck into a bush, that the whole of their body is concealed.” This may have been a misunderstanding of their sticking their heads in the sand to swallow sand and pebbles, or, as National Geographic suggests, of the defensive behavior of lying low, so that they may appear from a distance to have their head buried.
Contrary to popular belief, ostriches do not actually bury their heads in the sand. The ostrich, also known as Struthio camelus, is the largest type of bird in the world, often weighing more than 400 pounds (181.4 kg), and as tall as 8.9 feet (2.7 meters). It is a flightless bird, and is native to Africa. It is related to other large flightless birds, such as the emu.
According to legends, ostriches have a tendency to bury their heads in the sand as a way to avoid danger, but there is no scientific evidence to show that this is true. Some believe that the idea comes from the fact that ostriches ingest sand and pebbles, which help them swallow their food; people may have noticed them picking up pebbles in their mouths and believed that the ostriches were burying their heads instead.
Another possible source of the idea could be the scientific fact that, when threatened, the ostrich will fall forward in the sand and lay its head to the ground, so that its body will resemble a bush to passing predators. This action is especially common when the ostrich is attempting to protect its eggs. Because the head and neck are the same color as the sand, to an observer, it may look as though the ostriches bury their heads in the sand.
Today, people are often said to bury their heads in the sand when they refuse to confront or deal with a problem, and choose to deny it. The saying comes from the belief about ostriches, which was first recorded by Roman writer Pliny the Elder. Now that we know ostriches do not actually do this, perhaps the phrase should be corrected. Ostriches are not as stupid as people seem to think.