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The Osprey, sometimes known as the sea hawk or fish eagle, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching 60 centimetres in length with a 2 m wingspan. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts, with a black eye patch and wings.

The Osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. It is found on all continents except Antarctica although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.

As its other common name suggests, the Osprey's diet consists almost exclusively of fish.



The emu is the largest bird native to Australia, standing up to 6.6 feet tall and having an unusually long, thin neck and legs. The emu's long legs allow it to take strides of over 9 feet in length, making it able to sprint at speeds of up to 31 miles per hour. It also has disproportionately small wings at only about 8 inches long, each having a small claw at the tip, which it cannot use to fly, but flaps while running. It is thought that this practice helps stabilize the bird while it runs. Emus are brown in color and have soft feathers and bills. Despite its large size, the average emu weighs only between 40 and 121 pounds. Female emus tend to be slightly larger than males.

Emus feed on plants and insects, but have been known to go for weeks without food. They also consume stones, and glass shards and bits of metal in captivity, which aid them in digestion. Emus drink infrequently, but drink large amounts of water when they do. (They, however, are known to sit in water, and have the ability to swim.) Emus have very few natural predators, tending only to be subject to attack by dingoes or wedge-tailed eagles. Other predatory birds, red foxes, and large monitor lizards called perenties sometimes prey on birds or small emu chicks.

The emu’s primary defense mechanism is a nail on its toe that is approximately 6 inches long and razor sharp. Though they are not known normally to be aggressive towards other animals unless attacked, and have few natural predators, attacked emus can inflict massive wounds on opponents by kicking them with their extraordinarily strong legs and stabbing them with its nails. Being able to jump fairly high, emus may also jump over an attacking predator and kick them while descending to defend themselves. In addition to their offense-based defensive mechanisms, emus often camouflage into their surroundings and are known to have good hearing and eyesight.

During mating season, female emus court the males, becoming more attractive to male emus in appearance and performing a mating ritual to attract mates. Once the female selects a mate, the pair mates and the female lays eggs, which the male then begins to incubate. The male continues to do this for the next 8 weeks, during which time the female normally seeks more mates and lays more eggs. While incubating eggs, the male emu does not eat, drink, or defecate, and stands up almost exclusively to turn the eggs. Being almost completely inactive for so long causes the male to lose a third of his body-weight. The male retires his position of incubating his eggs shortly before they hatch.

The emu is an important cultural icon for Australia, appearing on their coat of arms and coins. Emus are also heavily present Aboriginal Australian mythology, and even play a central role in an Aboriginal creation myth that suggests that the sun is the product of hurling an emu's egg into the sky. Emus also have great economic value. Aboriginal Australians once relied heavily on emu meat. Emu fat was held to have medicinal properties, which could be used by rubbing it on the skin, and was also used as a lubricant. Emus are farmed today mostly for meat, leather, and oil. Their conservation status is that of “Least Concern," with a population estimate of between 630,000 and 725,000.

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Jacob Maddox manages content for Wildlife Animals an educational wildlife and animal website.

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