Re: Fw: [RFI]More Amorous Emus

Subject: Re: Fw: [RFI]More Amorous Emus
From: Brian Fleming <>
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 19:23:18 +1000
Vicki Parslow Stafford wrote:
> The bizarre claim below was sent to the Urban Legends mailing list.
> My
> first (and current) reaction is oh sure, it was on Home Box Office so
> it
> must be true.  I assume this person saw some kind of staged stunt a la
> "Funniest Home Videos".
> I have never heard of an attempted sexual assault of a human by an
> emu,
> although I suppose that, as in any animal species, such a thing is
> possible.  But this writer implies that this is some kind of
> characteristic
> behaviour!
> As one of the objective of the Urban Legends list (and the n-g) is to
> debunk false "facts", I would appreciate any definitive information on
> the
> occurrence of this behaviour from any of the good folk on birding-aus
> who
> might be in a position to know ;^).  Email to me appreciated!
> Vicki PS
> Vicki Parslow Stafford    |  "Even if you can't live up
>              |   to your destiny, you can
> Ipswich, Qld.  Australia   |    at least have one".

Dear Vicki, two years ago in Sept 1996 we stayed at Yookamurra Sanctuary
near Swan Reach in the Murray mallee, SA.  We enjoyed everything -
wonderful place for birds- except the attentions of a male Emu which
seemed absolutely convinced that I should join him under a bush just
outside the diningroom and lay eggs!  He kept shouldering up to me,
reaching his neck over my shoulder, gazing goofily in my eyes and making
grunting noises. The only way to deter him was to jump up and down, rush
at him and roar.  This was not helpful when I was actually trying to
draw one of the resident kangaroos.  Apparently this bird had been
hand-reared and was thoroughly imprinted on humans.  I believe he has
now been removed from the scene.  I am sure your story derives from the
behaviour of imprinted birds.  I shouldnt think an emu would care what
you wore.
   At Healesville Sanctuary the Lyrebird "Chook" was a handreared bird
who therefore displayed to humans, particularly women. He also muttered
"Hello Chook" at times - I've heard him.  Having a Lyrebird sing and
dance on one's arm may indicate delusion on the bird's part but it was
wonderful to experience - and much less trying than the Emu. 
   I have heard that the male Mute Swan has been known to assault nude
sunbathers beside lakes in Europe - not as a result of imprinting, but
because they will rape nesting female Mute Swans as part of their normal
behaviour and a prostrate white shape gives them the wrong idea.  Hence
I suppose the myth of Leda and the Swan. I think I read this somewhere
in something by Konrad Lorenz, but haven't time to track it down.
     I think this is quite enough to go on with!
                                           ANTHEA FLEMING

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