Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Gene. Gene Wonders, “What is a emu?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Gene!
Can you identify animals based on the sounds they make? Anyone could tell a cow by its "mooo," and most people know a dog says "woof!" What if you heard a "cluck"? How about an "oink"?
Okay, those are easy. Here's a harder one for you.
Which animal goes, "e-moooooo"?
Did you get it? Here's a hint: the name of the animal sounds just like the noise it makes.
That's right, today we're talking about the emu!
The emu's sound is unique. While some animal experts describe it as "e-moo," others say it's more like a low grunt or a booming note. Emus also sound different based on their gender and where they live!
The emu is the second largest bird in the world (right behind the ostrich). Adult emus grow to 5-6 ft. (about 2 meters) and weigh about a hundred pounds (45 kg). They have a shaggy appearance because of their feathers, which are double-shafted. That means that two feathers grow out of each follicle instead of one, causing the feathers to grow in more than one direction.
Many emus live in Australia, but you can find them in other places. They also live in New Guinea, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, and the Philippines. There used to be emus in Tasmania, too. However, people destroyed much of the emu's habitat in Tasmania. The Tasmanian emu is now extinct.
The most important part of an emu's habitat is a nearby body of water. You can find most emus in forests and sand plains. They're also known to "follow" water. When an area has an unusual increase in rainfall or a new man-made pond, you can expect a family of emus to move in.
An emu's diet is mostly vegetarian. They like to eat seeds, fruits, and flowers. If they can't find any of their favorite foods, though, emus will eat insects.
You won't see any emus flying overhead! These birds are flightless because of the tiny size of their wings. However, that doesn't stop emus from getting around. Adult emus can run as fast as 31 miles (50 km) per hour!
You probably know a group of wolves is a pack and that a group of sheep is a herd. What do you call a group of emus? It's called a mob! It's common to find emus living together in a mob or by themselves. Some emus like their alone time, just like people!
It's very difficult to catch an emu. You already know they can run fast, but they can also swim. Additionally, emus can jump seven feet straight into the air! No, emus typically have no problem escaping danger. However, they are threatened by hunters who want to use them for meat, oil, and leather. They also face threats to their habitats because of lack of water.
If you don't live in a place where you can see emus in the wild, you can always visit them at the zoo! While you're there, be sure to check out the other exotic animals housed in zoos. You might just hear a sound you've never heard before!
Standards: 3-LS2-1, LS2.D, LS4.C, LS4.D, 3-LS4-3, 5-ESS3-1, ESS3.C, LS2.C