I know America can be a silly country in its own rights, but I still can’t help but laugh when I think of the Great Emu War that lasted just over a month in 1932 (2nd November – 10th December). I think the thing that makes me laugh about it the most is that history states the Australian soldiers lost the war against the flightless birds. There were no casualties on the human side and the just under a thousand emus died with others later succumbing to their injuries, but the birds could not be driven away until the crops they were infesting had been harvested and they left on their own.
In defense of the birds, they’re actually rather peaceful animals. They’d rather run in their crazy zig zag motion than face a predator; that is, unless their young are involved. There are, of course, other rare incidents but an unprovoked emu attack is pretty rare.
When an emu is agitated, they raise their heads and try to look as large as possible by fluffing out their feathers. They’ll also hiss violently and probably fake an attack or two, stopping just short of making contact. If that doesn’t intimidate their foe, they’ve got large talons on their feet to back them up for a real kick.
The obvious thing to do when an emu is upset with you is to walk away! Try to be calm and unthreatening as you move away from them—an emu would rather chase you away than chase you down for a fight.
The downside to this is that emus are actually rather curious, especially if there is food involved. They have been known to investigate groups of people in search of food and will quickly become pests if they’ve had success before (just as they had invaded the farms during the Great Emu War). If you see a wild emu, I do NOT recommend feeding it; the outcome could be a sudden attack from being spooked or an unwelcome, frequent visitor.