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Emu

 
Introduction:

The name 'emu' is not an Aboriginal word. It may have been derived from an Arabic word for large bird and later adopted by early Portuguese explorers and applied to cassowaries in eastern Indonesia. The term was then transferred to the Emu by early European explorers to Australia.

Identification:

The Emu is Australia's tallest native bird, reaching between 1.6 m and 1.9 m when standing erect. Adult Emus are covered with shaggy grey-brown feathers except for the neck and head, which are largely naked and bluish-black. The wings are greatly reduced, but the legs are long and powerful. Each foot has three forward- facing toes and no hind toe. Most people see Emus along roadsides, near fences or other barriers, giving the impression of close association. However, Emus are not really social, except for young birds, which stay with their father.

Size:

160 cm to 200 cm

Similar Species:

Southern Cassowary

Distribution:

The Emu is found only in Australia. It lives throughout most of the continent, ranging from coastal regions to high in the Snowy Mountains. Emus were once found in Tasmania, but were exterminated soon after Europeans arrived. Two dwarf species of emus that lived on Kangaroo Island and King Island also became extinct.

Habitat:

The main habitats of the Emu are sclerophyll forest and savanna woodland. These birds are rarely found in rainforest or very arid areas.

Feeding and Diet:

Emus eat fruits, seeds, growing shoots of plants, insects, other small animals, and animal droppings.

Communication:

Booming, drumming and grunting. Booming is created in an inflatable neck sac, and can be heard up to 2 km away.

Breeding Behaviours:

Nesting takes place in winter. The male and female remain together for about five months, which includes courtship, nest building and egg-laying. The nest consists of a platform of grass on the ground, about 10 cm thick and 1 m - 2 m in diameter. The large eggs (130 mm x 90 mm) are laid at intervals of two to four days. These are dark bluish-green when fresh, becoming lighter with exposure to the sun. The shells are thick, with paler green and white layers under the dark outer layer. The female dominates the male during pair formation but once incubation begins, the male becomes aggressive to other Emus, including his mate. The female wanders away and leaves the male to perform all the incubation. Sometimes she will find another mate and breed again. The male incubates the eggs without drinking, feeding, defecating or leaving the nest. During this time, eggs often roll out of the nest and are pulled back in by the male. Newly hatched chicks are cream-coloured with dark brown stripes. They leave the nest when they are able to feed themselves. Young birds stay close together and remain with the male for four months. They finally leave at about six months. During this period, the stripes fade and the downy plumage is replaced by dull brown feathers. Emus are nearly fully grown at one year, and may breed at 20 months. Sometimes eggs that have not hatched remain in the nest after the male and young have left and become sun-bleached. Bleaching takes about three months.
Breeding season: April to June
Clutch size: 5 to 15
Incubation: 55 days
Time in nest: 7 days
Related Objects:

Related Objects

O.70489.001 - Tissue sample - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, New South Wales, Wooli: Rogers Bridge , (29 51' S , 153 16' E), 27 Nov 2000

(c) assumed Australian Museum.

O.27933 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, Queensland, Condamine R , (27 3' S , 149 38' E),
O.73767 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) ,

(c) assumed Australian Museum.

O.74430 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, No Data ,

(c) assumed Australian Museum.

O.74431 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, No Data ,
A.5004 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, Northern Territory, Colletts Ck, 50 Miles Inland , (12 56' S , 130 56' E),
A.5005 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, Northern Territory, Colletts Ck, 50 Miles Inland , (12 56' S , 130 56' E),

(c) assumed Australian Museum.

O.73710 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - NSW, Boomi District , 1967
O.70105 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, New South Wales, Gamba Scrub, Near Cobbora , (32 3' S , 149 15' E), 30 Jul 1916
O.70485 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, New South Wales, Minnie Water Road , (29 45' S , 153 12' E), 19 Sep 2000
O.70486 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, New South Wales, Minnie Water Road , (29 45' S , 153 12' E), 19 Sep 2000
O.70488 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, New South Wales, Minnie Water Road , (29 45' S , 153 12' E), 19 Sep 2000
O.70488.001 - Tissue sample - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, New South Wales, Minnie Water Road , (29 45' S , 153 12' E), 19 Sep 2000
O.72856 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - AUSTRALIA, ,
O.70487 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, New South Wales, Minnie Water Road , (29 45' S , 153 12' E), 19 Sep 2000
O.71786 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) ,
O.71099 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, New South Wales, 8 Km West Of Minnie Water , (29 46' 54" S , 153 10' 35" E), 25 Oct 2004
O.71207 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, New South Wales, Tucabia: Summerville Road , (29 39' S , 153 6' E), 15 May 2005
O.70487.001 - Tissue sample - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, New South Wales, Minnie Water Road , (29 45' S , 153 12' E), 19 Sep 2000

(c) assumed Australian Museum.

O.73506 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - No Data ,

(c) assumed Australian Museum.

O.73511 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - No Data ,
O.73543 - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) ,
O.70485.001 - Tissue sample - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, New South Wales, Minnie Water Road , (29 45' S , 153 12' E), 19 Sep 2000
O.70486.002 - Tissue sample - Dromaius novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - Australia, New South Wales, Minnie Water Road , (29 45' S , 153 12' E), 19 Sep 2000