A peculiar find by a first-time farmhand in a Midwest paddock has potentially saved the lives of eight emu chicks in Western Australia.
- The tractor driver spotted the eggs while driving through a paddock
- A wildlife carer said it was rare for emu fathers to leave their eggs alone
- Amy Schultz hoped the find was a sign of a good season ahead
Amy Schultz said she was on the tractor seeding at her family farm in Yuna, about 80 kilometres north-east of Geraldton, when she came across several round objects in a wheatfield.
“I was out in the back paddock at the farm, and I was driving along and saw, I guess you could call [it], a bundle of these dark little balls, like in the distance,” she said.
“I was like, ‘They’re funny looking things’.”
Ms Schultz said she went to investigate what had caught her eye.
“I quickly jumped out of the cabin, ran down and sure enough I stumbled across eight of them, so it was pretty cool finding that,” she said.
“My sister came straight out and had a look with me. I guess that was really nice to share that with other people too.”
The farmhand said she was lucky not to have driven over the eggs with the tractor.
“I just started my run and lucky they were just across [from the tractor’s path], not quite the run that I was on,” Ms Schultz said.
“Lucky I saw them when I did.”
The bright green emu eggs, sometimes mistaken for avocados, are typically cradled by their father for up to 60 days but Ms Schultz said the father emu was nowhere to be seen.
Father may have been startled
Wildlife carer Michelle Jones said emus were beautiful creatures and went to great lengths to protect their eggs.
“Emus will find a great spot. Sometimes it can be right in the middle of an open field,” she said.
She said it was unusual that the father was not sitting on the eggs.
“Incubation period for an emu eggs are about 55 days,” Ms Jones said.
“He sits on those eggs for well over a month without eating, or drinking or moving.”
Ms Jones said the emu might have been scared away.
“It’s not unique that an emu would leave it’s eggs, but there would definitely be a reason because the dad emu is such a dedicated father.”
Ms Schultz said she made sure to protect the eggs where the mother laid them.
“So I’ve just driven around them, made a nice big circle around them so people can see where they are,” she said.
Father back in position
Ms Schultz said when the eggs were checked on again, the father was back protecting them, much to her relief.
“My brother-in-law went out to check but he saw that there was an emu laying on them, so he turned around very quickly and let them be,” she said.
While it was Ms Schultz’s first year in the game, she hoped the lucky find might be a good omen for farmers.
“It might be a sign of a good year, hopefully,” she said.
“Hopefully there’s eight baby chicks that will be hatched soon.”