21st of March 2014 – Species Spotlight – Emu

This week the spotlight falls on a new species for Birdland

Emu

Dromaius novaehollandiae

emu-15

The Emu is the second largest bird in the world after the Ostrich and is a member of the Ratite family, which includes Ostrich, Rhea & Cassowary.  They are native to Australia where they are common and thought to be of least concern on the IUCN list

Their natural diet consists of many plant types and also insects.  Stones are also sometimes swallowed to aid digestion.  Emu are nomadic and can cover great distances looking for food.

Females are larger than the males and the tallest they can reach is 1.9m, otherwise the sexes are alike in appearance.  With long legs they are built for speed, achieving 30mph on occassion.  It also means they can be dangerous when kicking out.  Black feather tips help them absorb sunlight without overheating and a bald face also helps keep them cool

emu

When it comes to breeding it is the females who are aggressive, fighting each other over males.  Females may take several mates and the males will incubate the eggs (up to 20) for 56 days.  The eggs are a dark green colour.  Occasionally the female may hang around to protect the nest but this is unusual.  Chicks are active almost immediately and are covered with dark and light stripes to aid camouflage.  The male defends them aggressively from threats such as dingos. They reach full size at 6 months and will stay with the siblings for a while after this.

emu-nest

 

 

The 3 birds who have literally arrived last night from Flamingoland in Yorkshire.  They have settled in OK, one of them is a little nervy and are being housed in the upgraded Rhea paddock.  At the time of writing I’m not sure of sexes or ages of the 3 birds.

 

Also arriving this week were 5 Sulcata, or African Spurred Tortoise, the 3rd largest species in the world.  These also came from Flamingoland and are staying for now in the Desert House.

sulcata

Also joining us were 4 Degus, a rodent species that were donated to us and will become part of the Encounter Zone team

degu

 

Leaving the collection today were 2 female Roul Roul Partridges who have gone to the Living Rainforest.  The 2 birds are juveniles from last year.

 

Also going on this week has been the completion of the new Rhea enclosure between the Storks and the Nature Area.  This was completed yesterday and the Rhea were moved across soon after and have settled down well.

The new Hatchery in the Discovery Zone is coming along nicely and has its first inhabitants in the shape of 6 freshly hatched quail.  We are hoping to add chickens and ducks to the pens soon and should be open to the masses in the next couple of weeks

 

We have had more eggs this week with Humboldt Millie producing a second egg, this time on top of a nest box.  This has been removed for incubation.  The Blacksmith Plovers have 4 eggs now and the Frogmouths continue to incubate one egg.  We have also had 20 eggs from the Bearded Dragons which Chris is incubating.

One of the Grey Peacock Pheasant eggs looks fertile, the other not so promising

The Kookaburras have been given a new nest box and have already broken in and investigating.  The female Trumpeter Hornbill has also been seen in the nest box.

The Cape Teal and Striated Caracara continue to nest build

The female Orange Headed Ground Thrush has been moved off show as we introduce her to the male

The Pelicans are now staying out overnight so we have started the 3.15pm feed again

 

Wildlife wise at least 2 if not 3 Kingfisher have been calling all day today.  The Mealy Redpoll has been seen by a couple of times by visitors and at least 5 Lesser Redpolls were present this morning

 

We will  hopefully have more new arrivals to report next week so watch this space

 

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