Flock in the wild

Supreme Emu

9 Years
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
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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