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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Emu Love

This happened awhile back, but I have been meaning to tell this story.

I was on patrol in my normal beat and listening to the calls being given to other officers in their beats. I heard one being given to 471, who was fairly new in the field. It was called in as a loose Emu. Apparently this bird bird had gotten out of it's fence and was holding a family hostage in their own home. Well Kind of. It was a big scary bird in their front yard.

471 was en route to the location. I knew he had no experience what so ever with these birds so I thought I would offer him some assistance. I gave him a call and thought I heard a small bit of relief in his voice when I asked him if he wanted me to come assist. I'm not saying I am an expert with these birds, but having a little experience is better than none at all.

So I headed out to give him a hand.

When I arrived, I pulled up to the address and immediately saw 471's truck in the CP's driveway. Initially I didn't see the Emu OR 471. But when I parked I was able to see that the Emu was standing right next to the driver's door and 471 was still inside the truck.

Try to imagine a 6ft tall bird staring directly at you through your vehicle window. That is what this bird was doing. These birds can be unnerving because of their size. And we, as ACOs have heard plenty of horror stories about them too.

I slipped on my leather gloves and grabbed my catch pole while keeping an eye on the Emu. His attention was suddenly drawn to my truck and he rushed over to my door.

His neck feathers where fluffed up and he was making a chortling noise from deep inside. I rolled down my window a little to see what he would do. He kept chortling and kind of bobbing his head. I spoke easy to him and slowly opened my door. As my door opened I carefully and slowly pushed him back with the door. He kept right on chortling bobbing his head but backing up. I eased my catch pole out and held it in front of me to be ready if I needed it. Needed it for what I wasn't sure, but I felt better at least having it.

I slowly eased out of my seat and my feet touched ground. All my movements were slow and easy, keeping eye contact with Emu and speaking softly. He had backed up as my door opened more and finally I was out and we were face to face. He chortled and bobbed and I spoke softly. I used my catch pole to push him back a little more, and he moved.

I was able to close my door and stood there looking at him for a moment. While I was looking at him, I noticed that behind him just down the fence line was a spot that the wire was down. BINGO! That's where he came from. 471 had at some point gotten out of his truck and was on the other side of mine. We briefly discussed the game plan to gently herd Big Bird back into his pasture. Big Bird was being very cooperative and moved down the road to where the fence was down. I walked him into the pasture and 471 picked up the down portion of fence and got it secured. Big bird made a sad sounding chortle when I slipped back through the wire. I stood there a little while stroking his neck and talking to him. Suddenly he dropped down to the ground in a laying position, bobbing his head and making all kinds of little noises. He continued to let me pet his neck and head. It was really quite an experience!

Just about that time the owner came walking through the pasture with his ranch dog. We told him about the fence. He would make sure it got fixed properly. He did tell us that he had a few cows in the pasture, but had moved them and thinks that was how the Emu got out. Apparently the Emu had been with the cows and when they left he got lonely. The owner was going to move the Emu to another pasture where there were some other cows and maybe he wouldn't be lonely anymore.

We cleared that scene with a positive Emu experience.

I did some research when I got back to the shelter on Emus and was laughing at what I discovered. The Emu was exhibiting what is typical "mating dance behavior". The neck fluffing, noises, laying down. He was maybe trying to make me his girlfriend.


  1. Great story! Maybe that was the only way he had of saying "I'm friendly and lonely!"

    Keep 'em coming. I love your blog.


  2. I love your blog and check it all the time for your post.
    Bless you for what you do.