Why …

… does this bird not occur in the wild in central Victoria?

Emu, Mia Mia Road, 8th July 2017

Emus are perhaps Australia’s most distinctive and widely recognised bird, after all they feature with the Red Kangaroo on the ‘coat of arms’, the formal symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Across much of Australia the Emu can still be found, especially throughout the inland and in less closely settled coastal districts. In central Victoria it is not unusual to see Emus but these are almost always escapees from ill-fated ‘farming’ ventures.

A combination of threats has led to the demise of the original populations many decades ago. The clearance and fragmentation of areas of suitable habitat, deliberate slaughter, collisions with vehicles and predation of the eggs and young have been the major factors in this decline. Whenever I come across the beautiful Cranberry Heath in our local bushland I am reminded of its value as Emu ‘tucker’. Like many small shrubs in the box-ironbark this plant has declined in parallel with the Emu.



10 responses to “Why …

  1. francescincotta

    Dear Geoff, How interesting that you should post today about the importance of Emus in seed dispersal. On Monday night’s talk (that you kindly advertised here for FOBIF) Brian Bainbridge suggested that the rare species Dianella amoena (Matted Flax-lily) may have been dispersed by Emus in the past – he said it might be possible and worthwhile to reintroduce Emus along the Merri Creek in order to assist the declining plant species.

  2. francescincotta

    Superb photos!

  3. Sue Lanchester

    Lovely photos I used to see plenty of emus when I lived and rode my horse through the
    Bush in the mallee. That was many years ago. Sue woodend

    Sent from my iPad

  4. Hi Geoff. theres no Emu here any more in Warrandyte either (other large and small fauna ok), nor the Mornington peninsula where there’s egg shells in the middens. At Nelson far west Vic, there were many birds with Lepidosperma et al in their big dungs, few weeds, a sense of fully lived in….

  5. Eremophila species are often referred to as emu bush, germination requiring passage of seed through the digestive tract of an emu. Don’t know how much truth there is in that, but they are generally very difficult to propagate from seed in the nursery.

  6. David Griffiths

    Up here in Walmer and Muckleford we have had community Emus for years, i have seen the males with young following them and sometimes they just turn up to see what you are up to.

  7. Great post Geoff. Looks like that bird has stepped straight out of the most fashionable hair salon with a do like that!! 😉

  8. ohhh so gorgeous…and such characters! I remember meeting them when I was Jillarooing in Western Qld 40 years ago…they were very curious and came right up to us face to face…wild birds wow…please can we have more emus!?

  9. The bronze wing pigeons love to eat cranberry heath too…I have watched them feasting while thinking to myself ‘but there are not berries on that bush’ so what can they be eating?…note – the ends of the branches where the new leaves grow are denuded of leaves!

  10. Incredible pictures. Thanks for sharing. Haven’t been this close to an emu for 40 years since one stole my icecream as a pre-schooler!

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