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Emus.

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Earth Science. Biblical.
Emu.

Copyright (C) by Noelene Rout 10th September 2007

All rights reserved.


Emu.
Scientific name: Dromaius novaehollandiae. 'Swift-foot from New Holland (Australia).

The word emu is derived from the word 'ema' a Portugese word which means large bird. An emu is a large bird. The emu which resembles the ostrich, and is related to the cassowary, is native to Australia and adjacent islands. Male and female Emus are similar in appearance. The emu is Australia's largest bird weighing between 45-55kg.

The emu, having very small wings in comparison to its large size is a flightless running bird. It has extremely long and powerful legs with three forward facing toes, and can run, bouncing and swaying at a speed of between 50 and 70 kilometers an hour with a 3 meter stride. Its head is covered with short downy feathers, its eyes are large and bright, it has a pointy beak, a blue throat, and is covered with long, thick, loose, and floppy, brown and grey shaggy feathers.

Diet.
Emus eat a wide variety of foods such as: shoots, grasses, leaves, flowers, seeds, herbs, native plants, fruits, insects like grasshoppers, small animals such as lizards, and animal droppings; Emus extract nutrients from droppings.They also swallow small pebbles which aid them in the process of digestion. Emus eat about one kilogram of food a day.

Generally nomadic, emus move about within their own habitat when sufficient food and water are available, but will roam for hundreds of kilometers at rates of 15-25km per day in search of food and water. Roaming emus are seen beside fences, barriers and roadsides. Emus drink once or twice a day. During a shortage of food flocks of emus stretch their necks and use their feet to paddle (swim) across rivers in search of food. Emus are able to survive when losing half of their body weight.
Rain clouds.
Emus head towards rain clouds in search of food.

Habitat.
A hardy bird, the emu lives in mainland Australia, in harsh and rugged environments such as, deserts (central dry plains), grasslands, scrublands, tropical woodlands, coastal regions, and the Snowy Mountains. The birds who prefer open country avoid densely forested areas, and are rarely found in rainforest areas.

Calls & Courting.
Emu calls consist of hisses, rattles, grunts, booming, drumming and during fights. roars.

The booming and drumming sounds which can be heard up to 2 kilometers away are amplified when the emus tracheal pouch which fully develops during the breeding season and which is most often used during courting (an inflatable sac in the front of the emus neck) is filled with air which is released through a hole in the birds windpipe.

Females signal to males that they are ready to mate by booming and drumming when marking the areas in which they are going to lay their eggs. (their territories).

Breeding.
During courtship the plumage of the dominating female darkens. And when she finds a mate they court, and a nest which consists of a platform of grass and weeds about 10cm thick and 1-2m in diameter is built by the male with his beak, in a shallow depression which he scrapes with his feet on the ground near clumps of grass, or in a lightly shrub covered area with a view. The female lays five to twenty 135x90mm sized 700gram dark bluish-green thick shelled eggs in the nest in intervals of two to four days during May or June (winter), and the male, who then becomes aggressive towards his mate and also towards other emus, surviving on a reserve of stored fat, loses a considerable amount of weight as hesits perfectly still to avoid detection by predators on the nest (incubates the eggs) without leaving the nest(food and water) for around 56 days while the female who loses interest in her mate and the eggs wanders off from the nesting area to join a group, or to mate with another male and lay more eggs. Males occasionally stand up in order to turn the eggs over. Eggs that roll out of the nests are pulled back into the nest by the incubating male who will not leave the nest until all of the chicks have hatched.

Hatching.
Emu chicks crack their eggs open by pecking on the insides of their shells with their little egg teeth. An egg tooth is a bony ridge on the top of the emus beak which falls off a few days after the chick has hatched.
Hatchlings are precocial able to feed themselves (about one day), almost immediatley after hatching. They are cream with dark stripes, and some spots on their heads. The chicks stay close together with their fathers for warmth and protection during hot, and or cold and wet days and nights for between six and nine months, during which time their striped downy plumage is lost and replaced with dull brown feathers.

Male emus raising their own chicks and sometimes adopted chicks, watch over the feeding chicks and hiss and charge at approaching emus, humans, and or predators. Emu chicks are fully grown at one have adult feathers, are sexually mature and may breed at about the age of two years. When fully grown, the emus wander off in search of food or, remain in the same area with their fathers.

Camouflage.
The emus camouflage is his brown and black plumage which blends into the surrounding scenery.
Emu chicks freeze with their heads down in the long Australian grass when hiding from their predators.
On dark nights emus rest beneath shrubs and trees.

Sun bleached eggs.
Beneath the thick dark bluish-green outer layer of an emu egg the shell is pale green and white.
Eggs that fail to hatch are left in the nest where they are bleached by the sun. It take about three months for emu eggs to be bleached.

Flocks and groups of emus.
Males and their chicks sometimes live together in groups. Groups of emus watch for predators as they forage beside woodland areas.
During dry spells hundreds of emus flock together to drink from waterholes.

Predators.
Ferral pigs who eat the eggs,lizards, who eat the eggs and the chicks, dingoes, wedge-tailed eagles, cats, dogs, and saltwater crocodiles who catch emus as they drink beside their waterholes.
Emus cannot fly away from their predators so they run in zigzag paths or, swiftly kick attackers with their powerful legs and three toed feet.
Emus were once hunted by aborigines as a source of food.

Wheat.
In wheat growing areas of Australia hungry emus break down fences and eat the grain. Farmers in Western Australia have erected 1100 kilometers of emu-proof-fencing to protect their crops of wheat.

Desert.
Emus survive and produce chicks during dry spells in the Australian desert by tapping into bores, which were drilled into underground reservoirs of water by graziers, (farmers) for their grazing stock.

Emu Farming.
Emus are farmed for their eggs, feathers, meat, fat and skin.

Ratites.
Emus, ostriches, cassowaries and kiwis are ratites (flightless running birds with flat breastbones), they are the oldest of the modern bird families.

Dwarf Emus.
Dwarf Australian emus were hunted to extinction after Europeans settled in Australia. However, heaven's emu population is thriving.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD. Isaiah 65:25

Extinct: Existing no more.

Sources: Library, dictionary, encyclopedia, and the internet.

Any errors within my pages are not intentional.