STATUS IN THE WILD: Least Concern
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
Emus are the second tallest bird after the ostrich. They have grey/brown feathers on their bodies and sparse, black feathers on their neck and head. Their legs and feet are bare with hard scales. The skin on their neck and head is a light blue and darkens during mating season. Though flightless, they still have residual wings, averaging only about eight inches in length with a small barb on the end.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
Emus are the epitome of reversed gender roles in the natural world. During mating season, the females will strut and dance to attract males and will often fight other females over territory and males. Once he has chosen a female, the male will build a nest for her to lay her eggs in. He will then incubate the eggs for close to eight weeks. During this time he does not eat, drink, or defecate; only standing to rotate the eggs about ten times a day.
After laying between five to fifteen eggs, the females will leave the male defending the nest to find another mate and repeat the process as many as three to four times. Very rarely will a female only have one mate a season. After her last male, she will typically stay and assist him in guarding the nest, though rarely sitting on it herself.
Their eggs are laid a bright green/blue color that darkens as they are incubated. Once they hatch, the dark brown and cream-striped chicks will remain with the father for up to seven months. He is very protective of them and will even run off the mother. He will protect them and teach them everything they need to know until adulthood and sometimes for a little while after that.
They are found in nearly every part of Australia.
Emus prefer large open plains where they are able to see for miles and watch for predators.
They eat mostly grasses and shrub as well as insects and other invertebrates for protein. They do not have teeth and will swallow their food whole. Most of the vegetation they eat is very coarse and hard to digest. The emu will swallow small pebbles to help crush and break down plants in their stomach; the rocks will come out in their feces.