Rufus at two

Neil Flynn and Rufus
Photo by Julian K. Robinson

By Julian K. Robinson - March 1, 2007

With his second birthday nearing on March 1, Rufus, the flightless Australian emu, a cousin of the ostrich, stretches for his favorite string bean treat from the hand of Neil Flynn at the latter's West Tisbury home. Mr. Flynn and his girlfriend, Jacquie Balaschak, raised Rufus from his arrival as a 2004 Christmas gift emu egg through an incubation period of eight weeks to his successful hatching on March 1, 2005. By the age of one, Rufus had reached his maximum height of six feet and tipped the scales at about 150 pounds. He can run up to 30 to 35 miles per hour and can swim. In Australia, the emu is known as an opportunistic nomad, feeding on grains, flowers, fruit, soft shoots, insects, grubs, and whatever else is available. On the Island, Jacquie adds special ratite feed, available locally. Emus are largely solitary creatures, and seem to have no need for company.