Monday, October 06, 2008

Emus in Idaho...

It's quite common to see unusual birds at the Conservancy's Ball Creek Ranch Preserve, located near Bonners Ferry in the Idaho Panhandle. With its restored wetlands, the preserve is heavily used by migrating waterfowl, and a variety of rare birds reported. But, until yesterday, there's never been an emu sighting.

The emu showed up from parts unknown and posed by the preserve sign, before being herded into a temporary shelter by preserve manager Justin Petty. It's waiting there while Justin searches for an owner.

Coincidentally, on Friday, my wife Jennifer was jogging on the Boise River Greenbelt and saw a rather strange looking creature heading her way. It, too, turned out to be an emu--running at full speed her way. She hopped off the trail and the emu continued on its way, evidently enjoying, like so many of us, the jogging opportunities of the Greenbelt.

Emus are native to Australia, where they are quite common over much of the country. The second largest bird in the world, their legs are developed for high-speed running across the Outback plains. They are not uncommon on small farms or as pets, so invariably some escape--which doesn't lessen the surprise of seeing this large, prehistoric looking bird trotting across the Idaho landscape.--Matt Miller

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