Emu

Scientific Name         
Dromaius novaehollandiae               

Feeding Type  
Omnivorous      

Range            
Australia          

Habitat                        
Sparsely wooded level plains. Eucalypti forest, desert and shrub lands      

Diet in the Wild
Berries, fruit, grain, and insects              

Diet at the Zoo 
Pellet food (Ratite Breeder)                                       

Description  
Standing about 6 feet tall, and weighing up to 120 pounds, these flightless birds look intimidating. They are however the friendliest of flightless birds. Males are about 10% smaller than females and the light-blue skin that shows through the sparse neck is paler in the males. Emus have 3 toes and their wings are the size of an adult human hand.

Adaptation/Behavior
To compensate their inability to fly, emus are equipped with long and sturdy legs. They are fast runners and their long clawed toes provide grip and act as a weapon in defense kicking. Although emus frequently roam alone or in pairs, they are social birds and are often seen feeding with kangaroos and cattle. 

Courtship/Breeding
In the middle of the Australian summer, which is in December, emus look for a mate. Once a bond is formed, the pair stays together. They male builds the nest with grass, twigs, barks and leaves. After mating, the female lays a clutch of dark green eggs and leaves the incubation to the male. She then leaves the male to mate again. Sometimes various females may mate with one male, laying various clutches of eggs in his nest. He will protect the nest until the young hatches.

Conservation                           
Emus are not currently under threat, but in times of drought, their numbers decline. In Western Australia, the emu is raised on farms for its meat, feathers, oil and leather.

Interesting Facts

  1. Emus have double shafted feather. A secondary plume sprouts from the base of the shaft, equal in length to the main feather.
  2. Emus are the second largest bird and lays the second largest egg.
  3. Emu eggs are dark green in color.