Emu eating Emu

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Emu eating Emu
From: jenny spry <>
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 2010 18:50:43 +1000
Hi all,

 Now, here is an observation that you should not read just before you start

Heading out to the front gate at Bowra I stopped to watch an Emu that was
“sitting” in the middle of the track. It was down on its “elbows” and
“wrists” and pecking at the ground in front of it. Occasionally it would
shuffle forward a bit, or turn around to peck from a slightly different
angle. Sometimes the bird pecked with the tip of its beak, other times it
turned its head sideways and raked the ground with the edge of the bill.

My first thought was that it was eating pebbles because I knew that birds
often do this, but this was a dirt road and I didn’t expect there would be
many pebbles on it. I watched it for about 4 or 5 minutes and took lots of
photos because I had never seen an Emu eating in this pose.

The bird finally got up and walked off so I drove forward to see what had
been interesting it. What I found was a large splodge (technical term -
smile) of loose bird excrement. By the colour and shape it was fresh and I
guess it was Emu, possibly from the same bird I had seen. The Emu had been
pecking out lumpy bits and then turning its head to “shave” the thin runny
portion off the track. Close up it was possible to see the swipe marks made
by the bill and other places where the splodge had been pecked through to
the road. Most of the bird’s attention had been in the centre of the splodge
where it was white, rather than brown.

Checking google, as you do these days, I see that Emus eating Emu droppings
has been observed in captive birds so the sighting is not unique. HANZAB
does not mention this behaviour though. What interested me was that this
bird was conscientiously making a meal of this splodge on the track; it was
not partaking in a casual pecking at some droppings but was having a serious
eating session.

The bird was a male and did not show any outward side of illness such as
lost feathers etc.


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