The Fat Fat Bird – Emu

Image Credit: Flickr User Stacy Spensley , via CC

Emu sounds like a strange name ! Well it’s a name of a bird that itself is a bit strange to begin with. Now you will ask why? Because though Emu is a bird, it can not fly! It is the world’s second largest bird almost weighing at 120-150 ponds. It is a flightless bird that is a native of Australia. Well, there were times when this bird was found at other locations like Tasmania and King Island as well but sadly they were hunted either by humans or by predators to extinction. Now they are found only in Australia. No wonder why Emus are the national bird of Australia. It often appears on Australian coins and postage stamps.

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Emus are tall birds. Sometimes they can be as tall as 6.6ft in height. Their height can be attributed to particularly long legs. And it is these long legs that help them take steps as big as 9 Ft!! If emus are running at their best speed, they can cover 50 Km in an hour. Incredible! These Australian birds have three toed immensely powerful feet that can even make them rip metal wire fences. Pretty strong feet! What can you rip off with your feet? 😉

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Emus are pretty tough birds. They wander from one place to another in search of food. They can go weeks without water and food but eat and drink generously when they can. They can tolerate a wide range of outside temperatures as there body has mechanisms to regulate its temperature. Such a tough creature, no wonder they have survived since millions of years!

Have you heard of any one consuming glass or metal pieces and stones to grind food in the digestive system? Emus do! So much so to digest simple food of plants and tiny insects. Strange! While Emus love to eat grasshoppers, crickets, lady birds, caterpillars, moth larvae and ants, they are being hunted by dingos, eagles and hawks. Emus have a great eyesight and hearing. Their small soft feathers bear a striking resemblance to the surroundings to provide camouflage. Emus are light sleepers. They do not sleep continuously at night but only take short naps. They wake up at many times in the night at the slightest hint of danger or to feed or sometimes even to poop.

Emu babies hatch out from huge eggs. The eggs are on average 5.3 inches × 3.5 inches and weigh close to a kilogram. This is equivalent to 10–12 chicken eggs put together! Can you guess what emu babies are called? A young emu is called a chick or a hatchling. :)

Image Credit: Flickr User Jorge Franganillo , via CC

Emus hold a special place in Australian culture. In western Australia, people have a story about how Emu came into existence. They say that once a man annoyed a small bird, who responded by throwing a boomerang. This severed the arms of the man and transformed him into a flightless emu. Some others believe that the sun is nothing but an emu egg thrown into the sky.

More facts about Emus:

  • Emus are the world’s second largest bird in height after Ostrich. They are the largest flightless birds in Australia.
  • Emus can only walk forwards and not backwards. Can you walk backwards?
  • Emu belongs a group of flightless running Birds called ratites.
  • Emu Males are called cocks and females are called hens.


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