The Emu is the largest bird native to Australia. It is the second-largest extant bird in the world by height, after its relative, the African ostrich. There are three subspecies of emus in Australia. The emu is common over most of mainland Australia, although it avoids heavily populated areas, dense forest, and arid areas.
The soft-feathered, brown, flightless bird can reach up to 2 metres (6.6 ft) in height. They have long thin necks and legs. Emus can travel great distances at a fast, economical trot and, if necessary, can sprint at 50 km/h (31 mph).
They are opportunistically nomadic and may travel long distances to find food; they feed on a variety of plants and insects, but have been known to go for weeks without food. Emus ingest stones, glass shards and bits of metal to grind food in the digestive system. They drink infrequently, but take in copious fluids when the opportunity arises. Emus will sit in water and are also able to swim. They are curious birds who are known to follow and watch other animals and humans. Emus do not sleep continuously at night but in several short stints sitting down.