The unarmed winners of the Australia’s Emu-war

JJ Harrison



The unarmed winners of the Australia’s Emu-war

Population 630,000 – 725,000

Meet the second-largest living bird by height, native to Australia. It is a bird of remarkable biological interest and an icon of the Australian outback. Emus stand up to 1.9 meters (6.2 ft) tall and are covered in fluffy, hair-like feathers ranging from brown to grey. These feathers provide insulation, which is crucial for survival in the extreme temperatures of their natural habitat.

Emus have long, slender necks and a distinctive bluish hue to their heads, which stands out against their otherwise earthy-toned bodies. Their legs are muscular and adapted for long-distance running, allowing them to travel great distances in search of food and water. These powerful limbs also enable the emu to reach speeds of up to 48 km/h (30 mph), making them the fastest-running birds in Australia and the strongest runners among birds worldwide.

Their wings are small and vestigial, serving little purpose for flight. Instead, emus have repurposed their wings for other uses. They flap them to cool down on hot days—acting like a natural fan—and for balance while running at high speeds.

An interesting adaptation of the emu is its double eyelid system: one for blinking and the other, a nictitating membrane, which protects their eyes from the dusty outback environment while allowing them to see.

Emus are omnivores with a diet that includes a variety of plants, fruits, insects, and other small animals. They play a significant role in the ecosystem as seed dispersers and as biological pest control agents. Many farmers appreciate emus for their ability to consume large quantities of agricultural pests such as grasshoppers, caterpillars, and other insects.

Despite their size and capabilities, emus have a gentle demeanor and are generally non-aggressive towards humans. However, they are curious creatures and may approach people or reflective objects, sometimes leading to humorous encounters.


Population est.
Official estimate

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No