Australia's Bird the Emu

Early European settlers were amazed by the emu.  Governor Lachlan Macquarie was so impressed that, in 1822, he sent two emus as gifts to the Governor-General of India, the Marquis of Hastings.  When Macquarie set sail from Australia back to England on the ship Surry, he wrote that voyaging with the passengers were "pets" that included six emus, travelling in roomy well aired pens  well-aired pens. The animals were to be given as gifts to friends and patrons of Governor Macquarie back in England. Unfortunately many of the pets, including one of the largest emus died on the trip.
Emu with young chicks
In l791 John Harris, who arrived in the new colony as a surgeon, wrote that emus were swifter than the fleetest of greyhounds. Emu eggs were described as dark Green with little black specks the of pins.  It is a little larger than goose eggs.  The emu is Australia’s largest bird standing up to 2 metres high. lt has wings but it can°t fly. lt can run really quickly around 50 kilometres per hour. The legs are also yery powerful and used for fighting, especially if males are fighting over females. Emus are common throughout mainland Australia but not in dense rainforest and urbanised areas. They are highly nomadic, which means they must move as they need in search of food, water and shelter.

An emu°s courtship is a boisterous affair. There ISs lots of bobbing up and down, weaying and dipping, throat drumming, grunting and fluffing of feathers.  Mating begins late in December: The female flattens a platform of grass into a large nest and lays her clutch of between 7 and 11 dark green eggs lthough it could be as high as 20.  lf it is a good season and there is plenty of rain she might lay one or two more clutches with different males.

After laying her eggs she leaves. The male has the sole responsibility for parenting.  When the eggs are laid, the male gets broody and begins incubation before the clutch is completed. The female stops mating with the male but might continue to lay eggs in the nest. which are fertilised by other males. It takes 56 days of incubation before the eggs hatch and striped chicks appear, usually in early spring. During this time the male emu sits on the eggs. rarely leaying the nest and only standing to turn the eggs every few hours.  He doesn't eat or drink. Drawing on fat reserves, he looses about eight kilograms.
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emu australian bird