Australian Emu - Dromaius Novaehollandiae
The Australian emu belongs to the family of flightless birds called ratites, these are the emu, ostrich, rhea, cassowary and kiwi. The Australian emu is the world's second largest bird behind the ostrich standing over 1.8m tall and weighs approximately 50kg. The emu has long drooping dark brown to grey-brown feathers, the neck and head feathers are short and the throat is often a blue colour.
The emu can be found throughout most of mainland Australia except for the tropical rainforests which are inhabited by the cassowary. They can be found in large flocks, family groups or in pairs. The emu feeds on grains, new seedlings, nuts and insects. The male and female emu look very similar though the female emu is usually slightly larger, they make a deep-throated drumming sound using air sacs in their throats.
At about two years of age emus pair up for breeding, in the cooler weather about April the female starts to lay between 5 to 20 dark green eggs in a one meter wide nest on the ground.
The female emu then leaves the nest area showing no more interest in her eggs or mate. After leaving the nest area she may join a group of non-breeding birds or finds another mate to lay more eggs.
The male emu incubates the eggs for 56 days and will very rarely leave the nest during this period, he doesn't eat or drink as he lives off his fat and oil reserves. The cream and brown striped chicks leave the nest in 2-7 days after hatching and are able to feed themselves.
He will rear the chicks for 6 to 9 months until they can fend for themselves. Chicks mature physically when 12 months old and are sexually mature from 18 months to 2 years old.
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