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A photo of a Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae)


Dromaius novaehollandiae

The emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae, is a flightless bird indigenous to Australia and is the largest native bird in that region. It is the sole surviving member of the genus Dromaius and stands as the second-tallest living bird, surpassed only by its African ratite relative, the common ostrich. Emus possess a distinctive appearance with soft, brown plumage, lengthy necks, and towering legs, reaching heights of up to 1.9 meters (6 feet 3 inches).

Identification Tips

Emus are characterized by their shaggy grey-brown feathers, with black shafts and tips that absorb solar radiation, aiding in thermoregulation. They have a pale blue neck and a small, soft bill. Their long legs are featherless, ending in three-toed feet equipped with sharp claws. The wings are diminutive and carry a small claw at the tip, though they are not used for flight.


These birds are found in a variety of habitats across Australia, from savannah woodlands to sclerophyll forests. They are less common in densely populated regions and arid zones with less than 600 millimeters of annual rainfall.


Emus are widespread across most of the Australian mainland. However, certain insular subspecies, such as those from Tasmania, Kangaroo Island, and King Island, became extinct following European settlement in 1788.


Emus are diurnal and nomadic, often traveling great distances in search of food. They are capable runners, sprinting up to 48 km/h (30 mph) when necessary. These birds are generally solitary except during the breeding season, when they may form pairs or small groups.

Song & Calls

The emu's vocalizations consist mainly of deep, resonant drumming sounds produced by an inflatable throat pouch, which can be heard up to 2 kilometers away. These calls are used for communication during mating and to establish territory.


Breeding occurs between May and June, with females often engaging in combat for mates. The male incubates the eggs and cares for the young, losing significant weight during this period. Chicks are precocial and can leave the nest within days of hatching.

Similar Species

The emu is unique in its appearance and size, with no other bird species closely resembling it in its native habitat.

Diet and Feeding

Emus are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of plants, insects, and other arthropods. They can survive without food for several weeks, consuming large amounts of water when available.

Conservation status

The emu is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, although some local populations are endangered. The primary threats include predation of eggs by invasive species, roadkills, and habitat fragmentation.

The emu is a cultural icon in Australia, appearing on the country's coat of arms and various coins, and playing a significant role in Indigenous Australian mythology.

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Emu Fun Facts

Did you know?
The Emu is the national bird of Australia.

Emus on Birda


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