Monday, 26 January 2015

Hens Are Laying and Roosters Are Busy Making The Nest

Emu hens lay their eggs usually every 3-5 days in the early evening. In a season she might lay 15 to 25 eggs averaging 500-700 grams. Farmers go out in the later evening to pick up the eggs to minimize soiling and possible freezing in some areas. The eggs are sometimes a challenge to find as hen and rooster try to hide them from predators until a nest of 8-12 is gathered.

On closer inspection you can see that care has been taken to camouflage the egg with leaves and twigs. In nature the first egg would probably sit there for the better part of a month before the full nest is ready and the rooster goes broody.

As the farmer takes the eggs away the emu pair might look for a new location. Here the egg has been laid in a much more exposed area and so a lot more work has been done to keep it safe.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Raptor (Bird of Prey) Visitor

I was out feeding in the juvenile pen one morning this week. All was quiet as the mist rose over the sheep fields next door. Suddenly there was a big commotion. Emus were hissing and charging to the fence line. They were standing tall, almost 5.5 feet now, with their heads turned up into the air. As I looked up I spotted a very large bald eagle perched at the top of a tree in our field. These emus, as young as they are, were instantly ready to defend themselves. 

The white arrow points to the eagle as he surveys quietly for his next meal. He has chosen to sit in a coast Douglas fir (second largest conifer in the world)  that is noticeably the tallest tree in our neighbourhood. You can see from its girth that it was once at least twice its height. Probably years ago the top spun off in a wind storm. Douglas fir trunks spiral as they grow (per The Nature Handbook: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors edited by Ernest H. Williams page 28) and usually lose their tops rather than blowing down. This tree also has two-storey tall black scars on its trunk as evidence to its survival from one or more forest fires.

Well all went quiet and peaceful again in the emu pen and after several minutes the bald eagle left to search elsewhere.

Photo credit: By Saffron Blaze (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

For more on birds of prey see 
or facebook: The Raptors

Monday, 12 January 2015

Beyond Emu Bed Bath


Our winter rains play havoc with emu's natural fence-pacing habits. In some places the birds have dug trenches 8" or more down to the hard pan. Here we are spreading "spaghetti hog fuel" along the fence lines. It is somewhat absorbent and as it fills the holes it makes a sponge surface so that the birds are out of the water.

It's great for the breeder eggs as it keeps them clean whether laid indoors or outside.

Spaghetti hog fuel is made from Douglas Fir trees. It is actually the remains after scaling a fir tree to the shape of a telephone or hydro pole.  The emus were very impressed.