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One of Australia’s most famous animals, the emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is a large flightless bird, second only to the ostrich in height. The emu’s large, bulky body is covered in shaggy grey-brown feathers that conceal tiny wings. Each foot is equipped with three, forward-facing toes on the end of long, powerful legs, capable of propelling this large bird at speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour. The sparsely feathered face and throat are pale greyish-blue, while the bill is black and the eyes are reddish-brown. Although the female emu tends to be slightly larger than the male, the plumages are identical, making it difficult to distinguish the sexes. Juvenile emus have distinctive brown and cream striped feathers that eventually darken into the adult plumage after about six months. The emu makes a range of vocalisations, including a booming call generated by an inflatable neck sac. The male emu is left to incubate the female’s eggs alone, foregoing food and drink for the whole incubation period. After emu eggs have hatched, the male emu guards the chicks from predators for the next five to seven months. They once won a war against the Australian army.



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