Flock in the wild

Discussion in 'Ostriches, Emu, Rheas' started by Supreme Emu, May 26, 2011.

  1. Supreme Emu

    Supreme Emu Chirping

    Jun 8, 2010
    While out in the bush, by sitting stock still, I was able to observe a flock of eighteen birds pass slowly across my line of sight:

    you can really see the flock instinct evident. They move just as a flock in the sky does: there is a core, and I assume the alpha birds are there. Others drift closer or further away, but they are all headed in the same direction all the time.

    Pecking-order activity is ever present: four or five will graze in a tight clump; then feathers rise; one emu bolts five or ten yards, then circles slowly back.

    A sub-group of five spent some time grazing in front of me. Although they had plenty of grass and space, they grazed in a tight group: a body-blob of grey feathers with ten legs at the bottom, and random snaky heads bobbing up at the top.

    I can now tell Summer-grazing from Winter-grazing. Summer-grazing entails much more pecking-up of protein-rich seeds. Winter-grazing entails the sideways cropping motion that allows maximum intake of the low-nutrient Winter grass. (Their droppings reflect this. I can now tell Winter and Summer blessings apart.)

    The flock probably covers a larger area in a day than I thought. I can judge the speed of their travel roughly by their calls among themselves as they pass across the landscape. They moved past me – including stopping to graze – perhaps three hundred yards in fifteen minutes. So they're travelling at about a mile an hour all day.

    [Patterns are distinguishable. For example, for days in a row, the same emus will turn up at about the same time each day. (Different fruit from different fruit trees, or just the better-quality grass that always grows in the house-clearing.)]

    I note also that they don't call continuously. They call back and forth during courtship, and they make a lot of noise when they fuss. But when travelling, it seems they stop and start: they call back and forth (perhaps to communicate to emus in the vicinity. I know they do this.), then graze soundlessly for minutes on end.

    Supreme Emu
  2. foulman007

    foulman007 Songster

    Dec 29, 2010
    Columbia SC
    I see a bit of that grazing habit in my young chicks except they sing the whole time.
    Great stories and observations by the way keep em coming.

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