STATUSLeast Concern

COMMON NAME (SCIENTIFIC NAME)Dromaius novaehollandiae

DIETOmnivorous: shoots of plants, fruits, insects, small animals, and animal droppings.

RANGEThroughout mainland Australia.

HABITATEmus prefer savannah woodlands, scrubland, and desert areas.


About: The emu is the tallest bird native to Australia, growing to be about six feet tall. The emu has shaggy brown to grey-brown feathers on its body and small wings. The feather are double shafted, long, and loose. Its head and neck are mostly bare and bluish-black in color. Its feet are three-toed with no toes at the rear of its feet.

Like all ratites, emus are not capable of flight, but they can run! They can travel long distances at 30mph, and are the only birds with calf muscles!

The emu has a pouch in its throat that is used for communication. When the pouch is inflated, the emu can make deep booming, drumming, and grunting sounds. These calls are usually made during courtship and the breeding season, heard up to 1 mile away!

Life Cycle/ Social Structure More often found as solitary bird, emus sometimes form flocks in order to cooperatively search for food.

Emus form breeding pairs in December or January and remain a pair for approximately five months. In May or June, they mate every one to two days. Females lays 11 to 20 eggs every two to three days, and the male incubates the eggs for eight weeks. The male incubates the eggs, and during this time he does not eat, drink or defecate. He stands up only to turn the eggs. For survival, he relies on stored body fat and sipping morning dew that can be reached from the nest. Over the weeks of incubation, the male loses about 30 percent of his body fat. After having laid the eggs, the female may mate with other males and lay other clutches. The male emu protects the new chicks, which leave the nest within a few days of hatching and are full-grown within one to two years.

Predators: eagles, dingoes, and non-native foxes, cats and dogs. Lizards will prey on the eggs.

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