The Australian emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae, the largest bird in Australia and the second largest in the world after the African Ostrich, is an iconic species that has pride of place on the Australian coat of arms.
Emus are often regarded as residents of arid and semi-arid inland regions, but they also frequent coastal and hinterland areas, and are occasionally seen wandering along sandy beaches, strolling across golf courses and meandering through agricultural crops. Only dense forests and the most barren of deserts are excluded from the Emu’s range, and although these great flightless birds usually steer clear of urban areas, severe droughts force them to venture into outback settlements in a desperate search for food and water.
Once the female has laid her eggs it’s the male who incubates the eggs and raises his family as a single parent. He’s the most dedicated of fathers, and it’s he alone who tends to the young birds that he aggressively defends from predators and from other emus until they’re ready to claim their own place in the world.
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