The emu is the second-largest living bird by height, after the ostrich. It is endemic to Australia where it is the largest native bird. The emu’s range covers most of mainland Australia.
Emus are soft-feathered, brown, flightless bird with long necks and legs, and can reach up to 1.9 metres (6.2 ft) in height. Emus can travel great distances, and can sprint at 50 km/h (31 mph). When necessary they can also swim ; they forage for a variety of plants and insects, but have been known to go for weeks without eating. They drink infrequently, but take in copious amounts of water when the opportunity arises.
Breeding takes place in May and June, and fighting among females for a mate is common. Females can mate several times and lay several clutches of eggs in one season. The male does the incubation; during this process he hardly eats or drinks and loses a significant amount of weight. The eggs hatch after around eight weeks, and the young are nurtured by their fathers. They reach full size after around six months, but can remain as a family unit until the next breeding season. The emu is an important cultural icon of Australia appearing on the coat of arms and various coins. The bird features prominently in Indigenous Australian mythology.