Monday, August 25, 2008

Emus are easily excited

After several days of hard rain, the emus were very happy to leave their yard & wander the front yard. There is a gate across the driveway & natural barriers along the perimeter, although Cleo has gotten through it more than once.

They tend to stick together & on all but one occasions, when Cleo has gotten out he has stood on one side of the gate in the driveway & she stood on the other. Anxious, but not panicked.

The exception was the last time he got out. Instead of waiting at our gate, he somehow got turned around & was waiting at the gate next door. I had to lure him from that gate to our gate with a scoop full of apples. It took time, not because he does not like apples (they both do) & he definitely understood the follow-the-food technique.

But every time he moved away from the narrow window to the next gate & alongside the underbrush that keeps them from running into the street (ideally), Antonelle thrummed until he would turn back & she could see him again. In the end I had to lure her to our gate & get her to stand there & panic. Then he went straight for her, eating every apple he could find on the way. I opened the gate & she made no attempt to rush out; he walked in & he made purring noises while she groomed her tail-feathers.

When a female emu is alarmed (at least when Antonelle is) she makes a noise that sounds like the opening riff of "These boots were made for walking" I swear. The male sounds like the Velocoraptors in Jurassic Park (the clicking, not the barking).

& they are largely peaceful. They do get frightened & respond in the only way a 100lb bird with a brain the size of bottle of nail polish can: they panic, they try to get away, they panic more. They do snap & fluff at the dog that runs the outside fence of their yard, barking (we don't let her do this, but sometimes she gets away), but mostly they want to be left alone, with each other.

As far as I can see that is their defining characteristic. They are devoted to each other. We have never seen them fight. Not when food was scarce, not when she layed all those eggs & he just would not sit on them (deadbeat!). In the end, she sat on them half-heartedly & he sat next to her.

Cleo does not see well, as I have said in a previous entry, & often snaps her, or food out of her mouth in his attempt to grab something several inches away. We have never seen her snap back.

Emus are especially enamored.

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