The newest arrivals in Longreach, Australia, are making themselves right at home. The catch? They’re emus. The large, flightless birds are taking over the Queensland town: walking down the sidewalk, crossing the road, drinking from puddles, hanging out with their little ones outside coffee shops, and lounging outside people’s front gates, nibbling at the bushes.
The birds, seemingly unfazed by their new human neighbors (and their cars), are in search of food, such as seeds, grass and insects. A recent drought has forced the creatures from their normal brush habitat into the town. This isn’t the first time they’ve strutted down residential sidewalks, but it’s by far the largest influx of the flightless birds, and they’re traveling farther into the center of Longreach than ever before.
Emus aren’t the only ones being affected by droughts. Another flightless Australian bird found in North East Queensland, the cassowary, is being pushed by droughts and deforestation into coming in contact with humans. Conservation projects are currently underway to help restore the endangered bird known for its blue neck and bright red waddle.
For now, Longreach officials haven’t taken any action to remove the emus from town, but that may not always remain the case. Climate models predict that eastern Australia will continue to see worse droughts, researchers report in a recent Nature study. In the meantime, officials are urging residents to be cautious when driving. After all, not only are the birds stressed while they look for nourishment, but they don’t look both ways before crossing the road.
[video:192701|caption:Emus walking around the town of Longreach, Australia. Video via YouTube]