Do Emus Swim?
I guess the Emu is one of the most recognisable birds in Australia. Not only is it our biggest bird, it also features on our coat of arms. Most Australians would instantly recognise an Emu if they saw one out in the wild or in a park. Birders from all over the world would probably have a fair idea of what an Emu looks like.
I hope my readers know what an Emu looks like because strangely enough I don’t seem to have taken one with my digital camera. (Somewhere on several thousand old slides I am sure I have several, but finding them would take all day). See update below.
A question arose recently on the Birding-Aus forum, “Do Emus swim?” The answer is most definitely “yes.” It is not a common activity but they can and do swim.
Some years ago we were on a boat cruise on the Lower Glenelg River near Nelson in south-western Victoria. This was a very relaxing two hour cruise on a lovely stretch of the river. The birding was also very good, with excellent views of Peregrine Falcons along the way. On our return voyage back down river, the captain suddenly interrupted his commentary to point out two Emus swimming across the river about fifty metres in front of the boat. Only their snake-like necks showed above the water. He slowed the boat and turned so everyone on board had a good view.
On reaching the shore, the emus shook their feathers vigorously before heading off into the bush. The captain explained that despite doing this cruise almost every day for over twenty years he had never seen Emus swimming. I later checked with other readers of Birding-Aus and some said that it was relatively common along the River Murray, especially in times of drought when the Emus are migrating, looking for food.
I now have some photos of Emus to share with you. These were taken last year at our local Monarto Zoo – just a few kilometres from my home. I have also added some links to other articles about Emus.
Parts of the above article were quoted in an article in the Sunday Mail, a weekly paper published in South Australia. It appeared in the July 12th 2015 edition.