Australian Emu Birds

Australian emu birds are flightless birds called ratites.

Australia’s largest native bird is a bit of an icon.

Together with kangaroos it’s on Australian passports and government logos, on wine bottles and beer cans - and it sure is one of the most impressive Australian birds, found nowhere else in the world than Australia.
Emu (Dromaius Novaehollandiae), Wilson's Promontory National Park, Victoria, Australia
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Emus belong to a group of flightless birds called ratites, which evolved on Gondwana continent and are not found in the Northern Hemisphere. Many species of large ratites such as New Zealand’s moa (Dinornis) (3.3m, 250kg) and Madagascar’s elephant bird (Aepyornis and Mullerornis sp.) (3m, 450kg) are now extinct. The largest living ratite is the African ostrich (Struthio camelus) (2.4m, 160kg). Australia’s emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the second largest, it’s up to 2m high and weighs up to 60kg. Other, smaller living ratites are Australia’s cassowary (Casuarius sp.), two species of rhea (Rhea pennata and Rhea Americana) in South America, and five species of kiwi (Apteryx sp.) in New Zealand.

Emu, Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia, Australia, Pacific
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It is a large bird with a grey-brown plumage, small rudimentary wings, long bluish neck and strong long legs with three toes on each. It is found everywhere Australia except in Tasmania and the waterless areas in inland Western Australia. It lives in various habitats from semiarid plains to heathland, coastal dunes and tropical woodland. It is not found in tropical rainforests, the only place where Australia’s other ratite, cassowary, lives.

Emu, Dromaius Novaehollandiae, Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia, Australia
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Bush Habitat
It is a nomadic bird and it follows rains. Nobody really knows how they find the areas where isolated storms have fallen, but it is thought that they can sense thunder or lightening from great distances. They are usually seen walking around in the bush and foraging, but they can run up to 50km/h, and they move over large distances. They can also swim, and occasionally visit ocean beaches. Unlike kangaroos which are active at dusk and dawn, emus are getting around all day long.

Closeup of a Captive Emu
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What Do Australian Emu Birds Eat?
It can be solitary or live in family groups or large flocks. It is omnivorous and eats seeds, fruits, shoots and large insects.

Emu Running Through the Pinnacles, Pinnacles Desert, Australia
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The sounds of males and females are different. While female makes a drumming sound, males sound grunting. In fact, this is one of the best ways to find out their sex, as males and females look very similar.

Emu, Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria, Australia, Pacific
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Breeding Season, Eggs and Young
It breeds during the cooler months of the year from June to August. Female lays 5-11 dark green eggs, and (as in all ratites), takes off. Male incubates the eggs and raises the young. The chicks are brown-and-white striped, can walk in 24 hours after hatching and will follow the male for the first five months of their life.

Close-Up of a Male Emu Standing Near Eggs
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Curious Emu Birds
It is a curious bird - Aboriginal people used to lure them to spearing range by waving things in the air and remaining quiet. And they are not shy, particularly in areas where they have been fed. It will approach a camp ground or picnic table but no matter how exciting it is to have a two-metres bird approaching you, feeding is not good for any wild birds or animals - they are not adapted to human food which makes them sick and causes unnatural population increase which leads to starving and makes them becoming pests.

Emus at an Emu Farm Near Rutherglen in the Northeast of the State, Victoria, Australia, Pacific
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Places to See Australian Emu Birds
Good places to see emu birds are Mutawintji National Park and Warrumbungle National Park in New South Wales, and Innes National Park in South Australia, although in the outback it’s easy to see them everywhere.

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