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If you look at Australia’s coat of arms, you will see an emu bird, standing with a kangaroo holding a shield. Kangaroos and emu birds are native animals of Australia that were chosen to symbolize the country. Emu birds may look goofy, but do you know why is emu the national bird of Australia?
In this article, we are going to discuss the history of emu birds becoming Australia’s national birds and what characteristics make them special.
History of The Emu Bird as Australia’s National Bird
Emu bird, or Dromaius novaehollandiae is the tallest native bird in Australia and the second biggest bird in the world. They can reach up to 1.9 meters in height and can sprint as fast as 50 km per hour.
Emus were chosen as the national bird because they represent forward progress. This fact comes from their trait that they cannot easily move backward! That’s why emu birds were chosen as the national symbol along with red kangaroos, and they appear in Australia’s Coat of Arms.
Despite being Australia’s national bird, this animal is not always the favorite bird in the past. In 1930, these birds were destroying wheat crops in west Australia, and the government decided to declare war on these emu birds. They went as far as sending the military to fight with these birds, but they failed.
Emu is not an official national bird of Australia, although they are recognized by many as a representation of the country. The birds were displayed on the Australian coats of arms for the first time in 1908 and then again in 1912. However, the symbol of the emu and kangaroo coat of arms has existed longer. In the early 19th century, the Bowman flag also shows a kangaroo and emu coat of arms.
How Important is The Emu Bird in Australia?
Emu birds have played an important role for thousands of years. The Aboriginal people in Australia not only use them as a traditional food source. They also play an important part in the traditional ceremonies of Aboriginal people, such as the male initiation ceremonies.
For modern Australians, emu birds are an important part of tourism and the economy. They are consumed for their meat and eggs. Additionally, emu fat is used to produce special oil in the skincare and cosmetic industries.
The leather and feathers from these birds are also used for crafts, clothing, and even painting industries. With these many benefits, the emu has become an important part of Australia’s industry and life.
Interesting Facts About Emu Birds
Finding out why is emu the national bird of Australia is not apart from learning the unique characteristics and interesting facts about these birds. Here are some interesting facts about these birds.
Emu can Run Fast
Emu birds may not be able to fly; however, they can run seriously fast, up to 50 kilometers per hour, with each stride reaching almost 3 meters long. With this speed, you need to be careful when standing near them.
Emu Cannot Walk Backward
Part of the reason why Emu birds were used in the country’s coat of arms is that they represent forward movement. This is because they literally cannot walk backward. While having special legs that can make them run very fast, their knees bend in such a way that makes it impossible for them to walk backward.
The Male Emu Incubated The Eggs
In other bird species, the female birds are usually the ones who incubate their eggs. In Emu’s case, the male bird incubates the eggs. They will hardly move when incubating and don’t eat, drink or defecate, making them lose a third of their body weight. The only movement they make is turning the eggs 10 times a day.
Their unique characteristics and their status as native animals in Australia make emu birds interesting. Now that you know why is emu the national bird of Australia, you can also find out why kangaroo is the national animal of Australia as well.