Saturday, September 6, 2014


I've come across emu tracks and their poops all over the old townsite of Kundip, but they have never stalked through when I'm around. One such resident was hit by a car the night before last. It was the third emu carcass I saw on my drive into town this morning.

Feathers were strewn along the road for several hundred metres. Something I've noticed about emu feathers: they are always joined to another by a ... their ... follicle? I walked along the highway picking up whisping, curling tendrils of roadkill, two by two, trying to keep a hand on the feathers as the wind blew.

The swallow was quick to cash in on the tragedy. Within hours she'd added new plumage to her nest in the rest area's public toilets.


  1. Poor old sod. Hopefully he was killed by the impact, and didn't spend hours lying there waiting to die.

    Emus were everywhere when I was a kid. We used to raid the nests, but we'd only ever take a couple from each. To be honest, I can't even really remember the taste.

    I haven't seen any on this latest trip. I don't know if the numbers are thinning everywhere or it's just geographical. Can't remember the last time I saw an echidna either.

    1. Alex, not sure if you read this post but it is the follow-up to the pigeon fancier story:

    2. Glad to hear the emus are still going strong in places. Maybe it's just me, but when I go on trips these days, I feel like I see fewer and fewer of the old animals. Just more cats and dogs and rats and toads and European bloody carp. I probably haven't seen an echidna in twenty years. I'm sure there was more around when I was young, and I had rellies and stuff tell me about how tasty they were, but even then I suppose, they never seemed abundant enough to eat with a clear conscience. Especially not when there were rabbits (or hoodahs (spelling?)) all over the joint. Plus, the prickly little buggers are pretty damn cute.

      Poor old pigeon fancier. I don't want to sound callous, but I hope the same thing for him as I do for the emu: that he went quickly; not lying on the floor after a fall or a turn or something. It's a risk we all run if we live alone, but especially so for older folks. Did you keep that recording? Did you back it up? Twice? (I'm not being silly here. Anyone who works with storage devices will tell you that 3 copies is the absolute minimum.) I'm not one of those people who wants to preserve every building and tree that's more than a hundred years old, but stories are a different matter. It's a shame you didn't (I assume) get the ones about the gold-stealing squad detectives and the Japanese occupation.

      I still can't get my old man to commit to a recording session.

      Also, just thinking about your swallow there; isn't it nice the way that nature recycles? How every death is a boon for somebody, or many somebodies? It makes me wonder about the reverence we show our own empty vessels and the lengths some of us go to preserve them. Chemical treatments, wooden packaging; meh, use me for spare parts and compost the rest for all I care.

  2. I thought that too. I wondered because it was close to where I was sleeping - if I'd heard the hit, or if the emu had taken long to die. Both of the carcasses I saw were pretty obvious hits to the main body (sorry for the gory details).

    Where I've been recently, emus seem quite prolific. Echidnas ... not sure. I've seen two or three in my whole life, but I could have been looking in the wrong places.

  3. Oh how sad ~ they must be looking for food and water huh? The shot of its feet is very powerful.

  4. Your Swallow's nests are SO messy down there. All ours are neat and tidy, but they are controlled by the planners, so they have to be.

  5. I love this post — the messiness of death quickly recycled into a good use of life moving forward, in the nest.

  6. We saw a dead emu in the state forest just before you get into Perth. Bizarre - never seen one anywhere near there before.

    So glad to hear the swallows are still surviving - someone was talking about how they never see swallows anymore and was wondering where they had all gone. Nice use of the emu feathers - life rolls on.