Friday, March 15, 2013

It breaks My Heart

The Australian Emu is not a smart bird...
They are much like the Ostrich except not quite as large, if you've ever hand fed an Ostrich you will know just what it's like to feed an Emu.. they peck the heck out of you. 
They have a cavernous beak but the aiming system is a bit wonky and they slam that huge beak into your hand like a mental, oversized Woodpecker. 
Even so they are a nice animal in most other respects and I have a soft spot for them.
Each year we get a lot of these huge birds come down from the waterless desert areas for food and water, they work their way South as the Summer heats up then work their way North again during the Winter.

This year these two young birds got trapped between the low coastal salt flats and the wire fence that keeps animals off the roads. The food supply in this area is along the road where the sparse rains flow off the roads and keep the nearby bushes growing.

I stopped to film them a couple of times when I was going to and from my favourite fishing spots. Over the weeks they tramped up and down a short stretch of highway but couldn't work out how to get to the other side of the fence... I had great fears for them.


You can see why they tend to get run over, their colour is perfect camouflage for the Aussie bush and if you don't see them moving you just don't see them at all.

One day I saw one dead on the side of the road, clearly hit by a vehicle.
A few days later the other one was dead not a kilometre away from his mate. 

This makes me very sad, these poor dumb but innocent birds killed by cars and trucks during the annual migration that's been happening for centuries before cars were ever invented. 

I tend to agree with the radical greenies who insist that there should be no fences in the outback except around Sheep and Cattle stations.



River said...

What animals is the fence for? Small ones like rabbits? Anything larger like dingos or kangaroos would just jump over anyway, so maybe the fence should be lower or removed. Are emus able to jump over fences if they are low? This is really sad. If the fence isn't around a sheep or cattle property, then it is really useless having it there.

Pearl said...

I have to echo River here: who is the fence for?

We have similar situations here, although not with large birds. Deer, fox, raccoon -- yes, even in the city! -- are hit and die... Something even sadder, though, about the big dumb creatures... Poor things...


Belle said...

I agree with you, there shouldn't be fences where the emus migrate. In Canada we build animal bridges over the roads so they can move from place to place.

Tempo said...

Hi River, Originally the land behind these birds in the background of the pics was sheep grazing country but hasn't been for some time. Virtually every highway has fencing both sides...and dead animals along both sides.
Hi Pearl, Emus cant work out fencing, if anything they run headlong into it cart wheeling over in a pile of dust and feathers. Sometimes this kills them by braking their legs.
Hi Belle, This time of year Emus are all over this area, we see them all the time. I believe there should be no fencing along the highways at all, just fencing around areas where the farmers want to graze stock.