Family Cassowaries, Emus (Casuariidae)

Least Concern

Common Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae)


French: Émeu d’Australie German: Emu Spanish: Emú
Other common names: Great Emu

Casuarius N. Hollandiae


, 1790,

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Some authorities recognize races woodwardi#R (NW Australia) and/or rothschildi#R (SW Australia), but nomadic nature of species, together with changeable nature of feather coloration in connection with age and bleaching, argue against validity of any races on mainland Australia#R. Race †diemenensis, of Tasmania, extinct since c. 1865 (since 1845 in the wild). Extinct species †D. minor#R (previously known as D. ater, but this is a synonym of novaehollandiae#R), of King I, and †D. baudinianus#R (previously D. diemenianus, but that name not applicable#R#R), of Kangaroo I, have been considered races of present species#R. One extant subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. n. novaehollandiae#R (Latham, 1790) – Australia (except sandy deserts of W and dense forests).
  • D. n. diemenensis#R Le Souef, 1907 – Tasmania.
  • Introduced to Kangaroo I (off South Australia) and, unsuccessfully, to Maria I (off E Tasmania).

    Descriptive notes

    150–190 cm; 30–55 kg. Large, flightless bird, appearing wingless, rudimentary wings drooping below breast level; short bill more or less conical in shape. Male... read more


    Two main calls: “Booming” and variants (drumming, bubbling, bumping), used in various... read more


    Wide variety of habitats, ranging from woodland and scrub to open country, at any altitude, both on... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous. Seeds, fruits or shoots of wide range of plants, especially acacias (Acacia), Casuarinaceae, and grasses (Poaceae),... read more


    Pairing in Dec–Jan; laying Feb–Jul, mostly Apr/May. Females practise successive polyandry; also monogamous, and females often... read more


    Sedentary or nomadic, depending on local availability of food and water. In Western Australia makes... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Tasmanian population (race diemenensis) had disappeared by 1865; extinction caused probably by persecution (including... read more

    Recommended citation

    Folch, A., Christie, D.A. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Common Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 February 2020).