Have Emus Always Been Appreciated in Australia?

Emus are the world's second largest birds (after ostriches) and can run 30 mph (48 km/h), so you'd better be prepared if you try to take one on. Australia learned that the hard way in 1932, when former military personnel attempted to wipe out some of the 20,000 emus that had converged on farms in Western Australia during their seasonal breeding migration, destroying wheat crops in the process. In what has become known as the Great Emu War, World War I veterans armed with machine guns were deployed to assist farmers already hurting from the Great Depression. The problem was, emus are smart as well as swift and sizable, so instead of milling about and letting the gunners destroy them, they broke into small groups and dispersed, making it logistically impossible for the soldiers to take them out. A month after arriving, the soldiers turned tail and left the emus to the crops. The final result: Emus 1, Aussies 0.

Examining the emu:

  • Emus live on dusty plains, so they have an extra set of eyelids to keep dust out of their eyes.

  • Female emus lay the eggs, but males are responsible for sitting on them until they hatch, which takes roughly two months.

  • Emus are built for running, not flying, and are the only birds with calf muscles.

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More Info: Atlas Obscura

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