About the Emu

An emu is a bird that is much like an ostrich (first largest bird in the world). Emus represent the Ratite group (flightless birds) as the second largest member following the ostrich. Emus originate from Australia and symbolize the country’s national bird. Americans imported emus to the U.S. to breed for the local zoos. Importation has since evolved to be today’s primary alternative livestock for farmers.They share similarities such as long necks, very sharp beaks and small ears. Emus are not a new species to roam this earth. Their ancestry trails back millions of years ago in Australia.

One of the most fascinating characteristics about emu’s are their eyes. Their eyes have two eyelids, one for blinking and one to prevent dust from entering the eye. That’s especially helpful considering their living environment.

One of the only places you can find an emu is in Australia. Considering that their body strubaby emucture enables them to be able to survive in any type of region, they choose to live in the lesser-populated areas at the same time avoiding extreme living conditions such as a forest or desert.

Emus are definitely part of a unique species of birds and their presence in this world started back in the dinosaur era. Their first ancestor takes us all the way back to the Dromornithids, which their fossils were also found exclusively in Australia.

The Dromornithids was a flightless bird as is the emu. There is a family of flightless birds that are all classified as Ratites. Although most birds of the classification are extinct, the ones that remain are emus, ostriches, cassowaries, kiwis and rheas.

When it comes to reproduction, emus have a very special mating process they follow. Summer is the time that the emus choose who they want their mate to be. During this time, the female makes herself appealing to the fellow male emus. The female’s neck color develops to blue and her feathers undergo a color change to a darker brown. Once her physical appearance is complete, she then walks among the male emus showing her intentions with her appearance and mating calls.

emu photoThe emus then wait until the cooler months to mate. It’s the males job to put together a sturdy nest that supports a new, large dark green egg every second or third day. This nest usually consists of bark, grass, sticks and leaves. The middle is left hollow to allow perfect placement of the egg.

There’s not much time for rest! As soon as the eggs hatch, the emu chicks are active and usually leave the nest after a few weeks. As months go by their colors change and they gain maturity. Statistics show that four out of five emus will survive long enough to make it to adulthood, depending on their living conditions.

Additional Facts:

  • Emus are considered large birds, even from birth with a height of 10 inches. They’re born with black & white feathers, which then initially change to black. In the final stages of growth, the emu acquires a tan tint in its black feathers accompanied by a bluish neck. When the emu reached adulthood, their height reaches a maximum of 5-6 feet with a body weight of 90-120 pounds. Despite their size and weight, emus maintain incredible speeds of up to forty miles an hour while running, making them the fastest running flightless bird.
  • Emus can live in any type of climate ad their bodies are easily adaptable. They have no history of containing any diseases and they maintain a simple, healthy diet. The most important aspect of their diet is the amount of water they’re required to consume a day, which is estimated to 2-4 gallons a day. This is the main reason why they’re disease free.
  • Another interesting fact about the emus is their eggs. Unlike most birds, the eggs they lay come out with an emerald green shell. Emu eggs take approximately 48-52 days to hatch. One the egg is hatched; the chick is immediately active and can be seen running within only a few days. Their feathers begin to shed from their fluffy chick feathers to a more elegant arrangement after six months time
  • Female emus are able to start reproducing at the ages of 16 to 18 months. As months and years go by, their reproduction system gets accustomed to the process and they are able to lay eggs much more consistently. This process takes about two to three years to get accustomed to. Once the eggs are laid, they come out with an emerald green shell.
  • Emus, inevitably, are a great and tasty source of protein. Emu meat is favored as one of the leanest meats you can eat. Although it’s price tag exceeds most because it’s considered an exotic bird, it is healthier. Emu meat falls under the category of red meat, but it has a sufficiently lower amount of sodium and fewer calories as well. People often wonder about the taste of emu meat, a common assumption is that it’s tough to eat, but reality is that it’s as if you’re eating lean beef.
  • Emus are extraordinary animals that have many different positive uses. It’s safe to say that they have contributed a lot to the world, more than they originally set out to, and we’re grateful for it!