Emu

Emu

Dromaius novaehollandiae

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Quick Facts
Height:
Weight:
Up to 6 feet
80 to 120 pounds
Wild diet: Vegetation and fruit, occasionally small insects; they swallow stones to aid digestion
Zoo Diet: Specialized ratite pellets and chopped apples and greens
Distribution: Throughout Australia
Habitat: Arid inland plains to tropical woodlands but not rain forests or true deserts; they avoid populated areas, preferring savannah woodland and forests

Big Bird

Emus are Australia’s largest birds, as well as the second largest flightless birds in the world. They have very good eyesight and hearing. Emus can be found alone or in family groups, sometimes in flocks of hundreds. They are relatively sedentary or nomadic (moving according to season/food source) depending on the availability of food and water. Male emus make deep growling grunts, and females boom when they're content. Although they are flightless, they can run 30 mph in a bouncy, swaying motion and swim well.

Description

Emus are sexually dimorphic (with two distinct gender forms) but not easily distinguished. Males are smaller than females. Both have dark gray-brown feathers and a whitish ruff at the base of their neck. The plumage on their rudimentary wings is loose and shaggy because, unlike most birds, their feathers lack the small barbules that hold them together. They have a black bill, and the skin of their head and throat is blue while their long legs are dark gray with three toes. Their eyes are reddish-brown.

Status in the Wild

Emus are common but are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation. However, they have also benefited from the expansion of farming areas and sources of water for livestock. They are extinct on the Australian islands. The 2009 population estimate was 630,000 to 725,000. The population is stable.

Conservation Programs

Listed as of “least concern" on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).

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