Greedy is still away.
Mating-Season in Australia - Page 10
We’re live, readers. If this were A Real Academic Institute, they’d sack us all, if not just lock us up:
Supreme Emu (has fewer feathers, got coffee cup) moves across carport to toilet. Felicity Emu is . . . this is splendidly weird . . . Felicity is booming in the carport.
Back up: it’s early. Clear still morning. Could hear F. booming quietly. Got up, made coffee. There are two wild birds here. Greedy is still absent. Now, I recognise one of the birds – but I can’t pop up to check the post above ‘cause we’re live. The bird has asymmetrical markings: the white patches on its neck are not regular.
Felicity was driving them off a second ago. I’ve had to make coffee in a jam jar ‘cause my cup is marooned out by my cushion. Can’t get there without being seen.
Now F. and the second wild bird are amiably grazing just by the back fence. Snuck back through the carport to check on the other bird, and almost fell over it, pecking up lilly pilly berries by the house.
If you crawl on your hands and kness across the carpet in the spare room, you can see the lilly pilly tree without being seen. All three birds are now under it – no, Felicity the Fearless, Virago of the Blue Gums, has drifted over to check if more wheat has appeared in the bowl I gave her her breakfast in.
[Peers plaintively into bowl. Gives it a little peck. Nothing yummy there. Wanders into the carport. Nope. Nothing yummy there either.]
Supreme Emu is watching, unseen, from the window of the back bedroom, from a distance of about ten feet.
The second wild bird is . . . hmmm . . . I thought it could be Foxtrot Charlie, the consort that didn’t stay. I’ll have to check the older posts. I thought F.C. might be an older bird, but on the contrary, it’s a little undersized, a two-year-old? Nope nope: it could just be a runt. Felicity has ‘shooshed them along’ a little bit several times (with vocalisation). But each time the wild birds drift back, and all three resume grazing. (Do you think they’re males?)
Good observation from back at the cushion, but I’ve come in for breakfast. My toes are wet and cold. There’s an iridescent green parrot in the garden, and I can hear white-tailed black cockatoos in the trees. Everyone’s beak is covered with shiny wet cropped-grass-mush: crop a few times from the left side; crop a few times from the right. Shake your head, and send emerald-green mush-drops glinting in the sunlight.
The far side of the farmhouse is in full sunshine. The two wild birds are now in sight of the keyboard.
F. emitted some quiet and semi-strong booms throughout this episode. No vocalisations at all from the two wild birds. We’ve observed from the keyboard, the front-bedroom window, the back-bedroom window, the back steps, and from two spots out by the garden.
Welcome to my (scrambled) world.
Edited by Tame Emu Guy - 7/16/12 at 6:17pm
Two more wild birds, one a female, just came into the clearing, and started helping themselves to lilly pillies – food and mating, readers, food and mating.! It’s mid-winter here, and the lilly pilly berries (Is this tree native?) are better food than a pick-up-truck-ful of grass-mush.
I heard two females booming good and loud, and got to watch Felicity, in Full Mode, drive all four birds away. The two new ones bolted. Funny Patches and Maybe Foxtrot are lurking in the gums on the edge of the clearing. When Felicity is the only 'here emu' here, she is truly is the in-charge bird! It's her turf.
[But on other occcasions . . . ]
I have a real-estate inspection to prepare for, so observations will be a bit wonky for ten days. The project becomes almost daunting when you begin to comprehend just how much time you would have to throw at it in order to reach really good conclusions. For example, I'd be thrilled to be able to bring to readers a video or even a good desciption of a skirmish from right close up. They always announce themselves by the angry vocalisations, by which time it's too late to get close. I would need to be just there as it happened around me.
You recall that I posted about Greedy taking the Alpha-Alpha crown here. That was a memorable observation exactly because I just happened to be an emu in the crowd when it happened. You can watch Youtube 'til the cows come home without seeing anything at all like a real fight between emus, before you see a really angry emu. Indeed, I'd like to hear descriptions of the biggest stoushes that pet-emu owners have seen. This one left me open-mouthed, as I was -- absolutely literally -- standing in the middle of it. The pet birds do live in a very different environment. Yes, the same instincts are in play, and sad and ugly stuff happens; but the birds out by the lilly pilly tree are fighting for their lives on a minute-by-minute basis. There are no ratite pellets at the end of the day. [I saw a hungry bird trying to swallow fig-tree leaves during the nasty dry summer we had two years ago.]
Edited by Tame Emu Guy - 7/16/12 at 7:49pm
Well, Toast n Jellly, don’t be afraid to post any and all conjectures. The fun of it all – apart from having a feathery dinosaur named ‘Felicity’ in the carport – is trying to fill some gaps for everyone else. I’ll be well satisfied if a single reader thinks at some point in the future, ‘Ahh . . . but a wild bird would . . . ‘
Greedy is still absent. I think that the equation is: the female usually mates with primary and secondary consorts; but the primary consort incubates all the eggs she lays, and does so in ‘their’ nest. If so, then Greedy has finished mating/laying for the season – unless? Would she add eggs to the nest at this stage? Day Ten? A female can lay fertilised up to two weeks after the mating (!); but at this point, that would put 24 days between the first and last eggs. Surely not!?
Was ‘Maybe Foxtrot’ really F.’s consort? I think not – goodness, it’s hard to tell the birds apart sometimes! If only we could get mug shots of them, holding name-cards in their little wings . . .
And speaking of identities: when Felicity turned up, I noticed that she no longer has the ‘collar’ of white feathers which has always been an identifying mark. Has anyone noticed this on their birds? that their feather-patterns change?
Boy Emu is not forgotten, readers. I visit him every day. It’s amazing how ‘busy’ he is. His head moves almost ceaselessly, but he does seem to have little naps. I’m intrigued to see if his metabolism slows.
This ‘vocal reconnaissance’ thing. Hmmm . . . it’s beginning to make sense: on several occasions, I’ve seen G. or F. charge off into the gums, though I’m yet to hear the ‘challenging bird.’ We have a description of Greedy doing The Eagle-Eyes Thing. Well, yesterday, I saw F. doing it -- only briefly; but the pattern was clear: stop; boom loudly; do the eagle-eyes thing.
The track from the highway to the house is long and straight. At first, you barrel through the scrub, then you burst out into the big clearing through which the power lines run. Doing so today, we startled a wild bird grazing up the top end.
Now, emu lovers admit perforce that emus are a goofy-lookin’ life-form. From some angles. At some times. However, at certain other times, from certain other angles, they reveal themselves to be a real class act.
. . . a wild bird grazing up the top end, and with that almost consciously-long-legged gait that they sometimes display, it blasted off from a standing start, and was already at top speed by the time it had executed the hard-right turn that put the long clearing squarely before it.
Lovely, readers!! I’m learning that it’s Wild Bird Stuff that is most enjoyable to you. Although you’ve seen that wicked, huge-talon-traction-blast-off that catapults them into motion, you rarely get to see them in flight over distances. We were doing thirty miles an hour, and this bird didn’t even need to go to flamenco mode* to stay ahead of us.
What fascinates me more, though (and I get to tease you here in parentheses: if’n you want to see this, you’ll just have to visit here, and sleep on the couch for a week . . . ), is the fact that they can effortlessly maintain about eighty percent of that pace through the bush. Running along the aisles of the gums, for instance, is itself no mean feat – the ‘litter’ of sticks and barks makes the footing most unsure – but I see the wild birds hammering through the gums at ninety degrees to the aisles, over the humps that the trees are planted on, and through the screen of dried branches, and this they do at Mach Two. Check the photos I posted above, of the bush down by the corridor. That sort of bush.
Emu Hugger, the neighbours (thirty five years on a farm up the road) say they have seen clutches of eight and nine in the wild.
*Two modes, guys. ‘Mach One’ is head upright. ‘Mach Two’ – flamenco mode – when they’re serious.
Edited by Tame Emu Guy - 7/18/12 at 11:41am
Brief posts at present:
Wow!! Greedy has turned up, and Felicity has seized control of the house-clearing:
hearing spirited booms, I took a break, and went to check. Plonked myself down near the back fence, to see if Felicity was doing a vocal reconnaissance. Felicity was just by the house – but there was a pair of emu legs under the lilly pilly tree. The emu on top of the legs came out, and the two birds went straight to full-puff, and attacked each other. The weaker bird fled – these showdowns rarely last more than three or four seconds, that is, a couple of swipes on either side – with the victorious bird in pursuit. The weaker bird ended up in the usual spot: standing disconsolately in the gums on the edge of the clearing. The stronger bird came over to me. I said, ‘Hello, Greedy, sweetie – you’re back.’ It took me several seconds to comprehend that it was Felicity. I got some wheat, and went down to check that the loser was indeed Greedy. It was. Greedy (ruff lowered) came up to eat some wheat I threw down, and Felicity (ruff raised) drove her off it; and now, for absolutely the first time in her life, it’s Greedy standing disconsolately out in the gums.
What does it all mean??
Back to work.
Edited by Tame Emu Guy - 7/19/12 at 3:01am
What a day!! I couldn’t have been more surprised if Felicity had sprouted wings, and flown off to join the circus – but we’ll come back to that.
Boy Emu is almost at the quarter-way mark. I want to observe him more, but he does seem to be ‘slowing down.’ He seems to have ‘wilted’ just a little, and to be doing less looking about and scratching.
For the first time ever, I’ve observed an emu simply walking off into the gums, and plonking herself down to sleep. I have been out watching Felicity at dusk, and she just did just that, no more than twenty yards up an aisle of gums by the fig tree. This may start a whole new project: trying to tell one bird’s night vocalisations from another’s. I understand that my recall of Emu World Stuff is truly fragmented simply because I haven’t ever bothered to juxtapose behaviours with times of year. For example, sometime – I think in summer – when I hitch to town, I walk several miles in pre-dawn darkness down across the river bridge. The booms of wild females (it’s scrub-by-a-farm on one side, and an enormous block of national park on the other) are audible in all directions, sometimes three of four at a time.
Vocalisations: provisional, provisional, provisional, readers: do emus perhaps talk to themselves? Just the way people hum? or go ‘Dum dee dum dum dum’? Felicity sometimes emits tiny sounds; and – this is a thing we shall watch closely – doesn’t raise her ruff at all. She has just being doing it – that is, at dusk, and after a lovely big feed of wheat (some of it Greedy’s . . . ) and grass. It seems so likely that in any ‘power-plays’ at all – that is, most anything to do with other emus – the bird vocalising also raises its ruff to some degree.
Edited by Tame Emu Guy - 7/19/12 at 3:10am