There were abundant emus on Kangaroo Island, though I’ve seen this large, flightless, ostrich-like bird pretty much throughout Australia. The emu is, in fact, the second largest bird in the world, after the ostrich. It stands more than 5 feet tall and can weigh 100 pounds or more.
As you can see in the photo below, the emu has powerful legs. While it can’t fly, it can run at a speed of roughly 30 miles per hour. Of course, those strong legs and big feet can be used in defense, if you corner an emu—so don’t.
Most of the emus we saw on Kangaroo Island were hanging out near picnic areas, looking for handouts. In fact, the picnic tables at Flinders Chase, where we stopped for lunch, are surrounded by fences, to protect picnickers. Because while a kangaroo will beg for food, an emu will just take it—and you aren’t going to catch a bird that can run 30 miles per hour.
Emus mate for life, and it is the male that sits on the nest. In other parts of Australia, I’ve seen emus with their striped young trotting along with the adults, and while a relative newborn is about the size of a chicken, it still looks small compared to its massive parents.
Instead of a song, the emu makes an odd drumming sound, though only during the breeding season. Hence, though I have heard it on several occasions, we did not hear it as we dodged the emus at Flinders Chase.
Looking at the bird, you might wonder how I felt about flying Emu Airways en route to Kangaroo Island. Well, I didn’t worry—but it did make me smile.