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Emu - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: Spotted Emu

Photo by julien
Wilpena Pound, South Australia, May 2007
Dromaius novaehollandiae


150–190 cm ○59-74¾ in) - Female Larger


Photo by tcollins
Flinders Ranges, South Australia, January 2011
  • Plumage Loose
  • Each Feather Divided
  • Grey-Brown, almost Black
  • Bare Skin on Head and Neck
  • Skin Greyish Blue, Darker in Breeding Season
  • Eye Yellow-Reddish
  • Legs Grey
  • Race novaehollandiae has Pale collar in Breeding Season
  • Wings Vestigial


2-3 Months

  • Greyish Buff with Spotted Crown
  • Bold Black Stripes
  • Plumage no longer Visible by 4-5 Months


4-22 Months

  • Head and Neck Blackish
  • Body Darker & Patterned


Found over most of mainland Australia except rainforests, the driest deserts and urban areas, absent from much of the east coast.

Extinct as a wild bird in Tasmania but has been reintroduced to Maria Island. Mainly resident but nomadic in drier parts of range and makes regular migratory movements in some areas, particularly the west where moves south-westwards in spring.

Graphic by Nrg800
The Emu's Range.



Four subspecies recognized[1]:

  • D. n. novaehollandiae in Australia
  • D. n. baudinianus formerly on Kangaroo Island (South Australia). Extinct.
  • D. n. minor formerly on King Island (Australia). Extinct; last reported 1850
  • D. n. diemenensis formerly in Tasmania. Extinct ca 1865

baudinianus and minor have been treated as separate species (Kangaroo Island Emu and King Island Emu).


Open plains, scrubland and coastal heath, semi-desert, open woodland and cultivated land. Common over much of range and easily seen in many protected areas.


  • Anywhere from Pairs to Hundreds (where plentiful food) feeding together
  • Shy but Curious
  • Swims Well
  • Runs in short bursts to 50km/h

Breeds in winter, eggs laid in April-May and season continues until September-October. Nest is a scrape in the ground or an area of trampled grass lined with leaves and bark usually near a tree or bush. Eggs: 7-11, rarely 20 dark green with granulated shell (134 x 83mm). Male incubates for about 48 days and tends young for up to 18 months.


  • Male: Deep Growling grunts
  • Female: Upto 12 Loud thudding Drummings
  • Young: Whistling peeps


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

Recommended Citation

External Links

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