Saturday, September 22, 2012
Males weigh around 3 kilos, and females around 4 kilos - the wing-span can be up to 2.5 metres helping them soar up to 2 km and stay air-born for up to 90 mins. Wedgies mate for life, but will rarely produce young during drought. I love their delicate feathery pantaloons which are at odds with their hard sharp claws and strong beak.
The Emu is more commonly referred to in picnic areas as "that bloody bird that tried to pinch my lunch". In picnic areas where they scavenge for food, they can become aggressive, demanding and distinctly intimidating at a robust 2+ metres (6'6") high.
In the bush, however, they're shy, timid, fast and possibly stupid as they seem to try to run alongside a vehicle moving at around 70kph (40+mph), sometimes veering off-course in front of said vehicle to be splattered messily on the roadside. There, they become a feast for birds of prey, dingoes, some lizards, insects and assorted other creatures that clean up carcasses.
Emus can be curious, but you're the intruder into their territory and they shouldn't be approached as if they're a domestic pet. They aren't. They're powerful, have sharp claws, very strong legs for kicking and a strong beak.
Coming face to face with an emu at a picnic is not always a charming, fun experience. They're big and ugly. OK, that's possibly an unfair value statement about beauty, but finding yourself unexpectedly close up, you'd never use the word friendly. When you've got that head and beak coming at your lunch from over your shoulder, you tend to have a lot of respect for the power available to them. They can be very focused on a free feed and don't always take kindly to a refusal to share your lunch. They'll protect themselves their interests and their young, just the same as we will when threatened.